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Posts Tagged ‘Food’

"Official" Yorkshire Pudding > 4 inches tall!

Christmas dinner has come and gone. This year I decided to make a Sunday Christmas dinner that was an ode to Old English traditions: roast beef, gravy, glazed carrots and Yorkshire puddings. The star of the night was certainly the Yorkshire Pudding. Making these fatty little delights was much easier than I had expected and quite fun. Seeing them rise then slowly fall (which is quite sad, but inevitable) is a wonderful example of the science of cooking. A trick to getting the most height out of your puddings is to use a popover pan. The recipe below, using a popover pan, definitely yielded a Yorkshire pudding above the official 4 inch tall requirement for an “official Yorkshire pudding.” The recipe calls for drippings from the “roast beast” a.k.a roast beef. If you do not cook a roast feel free to use olive oil as a substitute.

Yorkshire Pudding with Herbs

Ingredients:

1 tsp kosher salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

fatty goodness...prep for puddings

1 1/4 cups milk

3 eggs, beaten

2 Tbsps (total) savory, thyme, and rosemary–in any combination you prefer

approx. 1/4 cup reserved pan fat from your “Roast Beast” (roast beef)

To make:

In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Add half the milk and all the eggs into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining milk, and then the herbs. Cover with plastic wrap and  let batter sit at room temperature, for approximately 45 minutes (30 if you are in a rush). This is a great time to roast your beef 🙂

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Divide and pour the beef fat or oil into the popover pan (or muffin tin if you do not have a popover pan–the rise will be less with the muffin tin) to fill each container about 1/4 inch of oil. You will probably use less than the full reserved amount of fat–you just want a nice coating on the bottom to crisp up the sides of the pudding as it rises. Heat in oven until the fat is almost smoking hot; approximately 5-10 minutes. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any fat drippings – this will help prevent any oven fires!

Uncover batter and whisk one more time. Pour batter into each cup, about 3/4 full and immediately place back into the oven. The batter will sizzle when being poured into the hot fat. Bake until risen and golden brown in color (takes about 20 minutes). Turn oven off and leave puddings in the oven for just 5 more minutes to help set. Remove puddings carefully to maintain the most height possible. Serve while still hot and puffed–a perfect bite paired with your “roast beast” and gravy!

work fast...they will deflate soon!

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‘Tis the Season…

One of my good friends is of Danish decent, and he introduced me to a wonderful traditional Danish pastry: the Æbleskiver. These are traditional Danish pancakes that are often served around Christmas time. These little perfect bites have been Americanized to be called “Pancake Puffs” and when they are filled “Filled Pancakes”. No matter what you call them they are wonderful bites of goodness that are really fun to make.

To make them, you need a specialized pan. We received one of these pans as a wedding gift from Williams Sonoma. We couldn’t resist the urge to give it a try and yes….it was a success. We cheated an used the pre-mixed Ebleskiver Pancake Mix, which for first timers worked perfectly. We also used various jams as fillings. I can’t wait to try a more traditional recipe…after all Christmas is just around the corner! These pair perfectly with a mug of Glühwein/Glögg  aka “mulled wine”.

To make: Follow the instructions on the Ebelskiver mix. If using the Williams Sonoma brand you will need the following ingredients:

  • Ebelskiver mix
  • 2 eggs, separate whites and yolks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter melted, plus more to coat the pan while cooking
  • Desired fillings: jams, chocolate, etc.
  • Desired topping: maple syrup, powered sugar, whipped cream, etc.

The most fun part of making these little Danish delights is developing you own technique for flipping the pancakes to keep the filling in and maintain a spherical shape. Although it is tempting, try not to overfill with the jam. I found a useful tip is to cook the first side a bit longer then gently loosen the all of sides before trying to flip the Ebelskiver. The main instruction is to have fun, be creative…and remember…even if they turn out ugly they will still taste good!

Ready to flip!

Perfect Bites: Jam-filled Ebleskivers!

Top with Powdered Sugar and Ready to Eat 🙂

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1 lb. of Bacon...just waiting to be cooked up in delicious dishes

This year September 3 marks the annual International Bacon Day. Each year the Saturday before Labor Day is a day devoted to the irresistible, crunchy, salty delicious meat known as bacon. I thought about doing several recipes and posting them all together, using up the entire 1 lb. of bacon I bought to celebrate International Bacon Day. It sounds like a nice idea, but my waistline told me otherwise…not to mention cholesterol. Like most delicious foods, bacon should be consumed in moderation…it takes some will-power, but a few slices can be enough to satisfy your craving.

So this post is just a simple way to start the day off with some bacon….

Basic Breakfast Bacon

Ingredients:

4 slices of bacon, cut in half (I like to cut the slices in half, it makes me feel like I’m eating more; this should be enough for two people, approx 2 whole bacon slices pieces per person)

non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet

To make:

Heat the pan on medium to medium/high heat. Place the bacon in the pan, do not overlap. Cook for about 5-7 minutes then flip over and continue to cook until your desired crispness level. I find tongs are the best way to maneuver the bacon. The bacon will not actually get crisp until you remove it to the pan onto some paper towels to wick away the oil and cool down a bit–keep this in mind if you like really crunchy bacon, because burnt bacon is eatable, but not the best.  I like mine on the crunchy side so I look for some slight brown color (not uniform, but in some areas) on the fat before removing it from the pan.

Cooked Bacon

Serve along with some buttered toast with strawberry jam and you’ve got yourself a great start to International Bacon Day!  I actually place my bacon on top of the toast to combine the sweet and salty flavor into one bite–yummmm 🙂

Bacon & Toast: feel free to keep the bacon on the side if you aren't a food mixer like me 🙂

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I absolutely just love barbecue/barbeque!

Living in the city certainly limits my ability to make my own versions of barbeque. I am partial to real smoked barbeque that has been cooking slow for hours in an outdoor smoker. Needless to say that is not an option for me in a shoebox apartment. So…I have to explore other options. This is a decent version of “BBQ” pulled pork that is easy to put together, easy clean up, and feasible for anyone who has a crock pot–no need for the outdoors or smokers. Even though the recipe is in a crock pot, I find the pork can get dry pretty easily if you get a leaner cut, which is recommended for crock pot cooking because there is no real place for fat to drain. So…have your favorite homemade or store bought BBQ sauce handy to really make this recipe your favorite option for indoor “BBQ”!

Crock Pot Pulled Pork “BBQ”

3-4 lb pork shoulder roast

1 large white onion roughly diced

1 carrot, peeled and cut in med-large pieces (this is to absorb some of the acidity…not really for flavor)

salt & pepper

sauce base

For the “sauce” base:

5 cloves garlic chopped

4-5 Tbsp brown sugar or molasses

1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp liquid smoke

2 tsp dry mustard

2 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup beer (one that has flavor…not light beer) –quantity divided in half   (alternative: beef broth or water)

Mix all ingredients together–except beer.

To Crock:

Place onions and carrot in bottom of large crock pot. Generously salt and pepper pork on both sides. Slowly pour sauce base onto meat. Add 1/2 of beer to crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours–there should be enough liquid in the pot; if for some reason evaporation occurs, feel free to go ahead and add the remainder of the beer now (or use water or beef broth if you do not want to use beer).

Remove cooked pork to platter and shred with fork.

Return shredded pork to crock pot (there should be some sauce/liquid in the pot) and mix with sauce and remainder of beer.

Cook on lowest setting an additional 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Assemble a sandwich with your favorite type of bread (I used potato buns) and top with additional homemade or store bought BBQ sauce to make a delicious pulled pork sandwich!

Open-face BBQ sandwich...my favorite!

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Pimento cheese sandwiches are a classic Southern food that you often see a picnics, cookouts, and other casual dining venues. Pimento cheese itself is great spread on crackers (my favorite), celery, or a variety of breads to make an easy bit to eat with no cooking needed. There are several recipes that combine different cheeses, relishes, or spices. This recipe here is the basics: mayo, cheese, pimento, and pepper. I don’t add extra salt to my recipe because I find between the mayo and sharp cheddar there is enough salt. Another variation is smooth vs. chunky–I go for chunky. I like the texture of the cheese and it makes a better consistency if you want to make a grilled sandwich. Making the smoother texture just requires combining and mixing in a food processor rather than by hand, or using a finer grate level when shredding the cheese.

Pimento Cheese Spread

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (approx 8 oz.)

All the ingredients you need for the perfect bite!

3/4 cup light mayonnaise

1 tsp lemon juice

1 (4 oz) jar of pimento, chopped

dash of dry mustard

ground pepper to taste (I like using ground white pepper, which give a nice pepper taste without the black specks)

To make:

Mix mayo, lemon juice, and dash of dry mustard in a medium sized bowl. Add shredded cheese and pimento–mix together. Taste…add pepper to your liking (and salt if you’d like).  Cover spread and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (if you can wait). The flavors will meld together. Cover the cheese in an airtight container (I like to also place plastic wrap direction on the spread to keep air out) and it will keep refrigerated for up to a week–do not freeze.

The ultimate cheesy perfect bite!

Serving options: on crackers, on celery sticks, on a sandwich (try with raisin bread–this it really good) cold or toasted, or just grab a spoon and eat plain!

Enjoy 🙂

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Since my last post, life has brought tons of “things to do”–PhD qualifying exam, work, and newly engaged! With a wedding coming up in the near future, my goal is to try to cook healthy, flavor-packed dishes to keep my waistline in check, so that I can fit in the wedding dress I just bought 🙂

The main recipe here is from a wonderful cookbook So Easy by Ellie Krieger. The recipes in this book seem almost too simplistic at first, but they have great flavor kicks that add some real uniqueness to the dishes. It is a great resource to go to when you are looking to make something easy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner…and even dessert! I have not tried too many of the recipes yet…but stay tuned because I have already picked out another one to try this week.

Chicken Kebabs with Orzo Salad

Quick, Healthy, Flavor-Packed Meal!

This recipe sticks fairly closely to the recipe outlined in the cookbook So Easy by Ellie Krieger, but I found that the cooking time was a bit off for using an indoor grill and I also left off the mint garnish because there is mint in the Orzo Salad side dish.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (juice from 1/2 lemon)

1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (I did not measure, but used  the zest from 1/2 lemon use for juicing)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp salt

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in 3/4 inch cubes

8- 10 inch skewers (if using wood skewers soak in water while the chicken marinates to prevent flare ups/burning)

1 1/2 cups seedless green grapes

cooking spray

1 recipe Orzo Salad (recipe follows)

To make:

In a nonreactive mixing bowl, whisk together first seven ingredients. Add chicken and marinate for 30 minutes up to 4 hours (I marinated approximately 1 hour). Thread the chicken on the soaked skewers, alternating with the grapes, and attending to the pointy-end to prevent poking you finger pushing the chicken through! Spray the grill pan or grill grate with cooking spray lightly (away from any flame). Grill the chicken over medium high heat until cooked through–this step can be a bit tricky if the chicken pieces and grapes are not the same size due to uneven surface heating. You may need to coax the chicken with tongs to ensure all surfaces get a nice brown char and cook through.

Serve immediately alongside Orzo Pasta for a delicious, healthy, flavorful meal!

Orzo Pasta Salad

This orzo salad recipe I poached from foodnetwork.com and it is super easy and super tasty.  The only, bu very important, addition I made to this recipe is adding crumbled feta and also leaving out the last salt & pepper to taste. By adding the feta it adds some saltines and creamier texture so there is no need for the additional salt at the end 🙂

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth or water

1 1/2 cups orzo

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups red and yellow teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved (I used grape tomatoes)

3/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

About 3/4 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows

6 oz. container for reduced fat crumbled feta

Instructions:

In a medium-large pan/pot, bring the broth or water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir in the orzo. Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Drain the orzo and transfer the orzo to a large wide bowl and toss until the orzo cools slightly. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, combine the orzo pasta, beans, tomatoes, onion, basil, mint, feta and enough vinaigrette to coat. The red wine vinaigrette recipe below makes more servings than you will need for the orzo salad. You can refrigerate and save the left over vinaigrette for use up to one week later.

Red Wine Vinaigrette: (makes approximately 2 cups)

Mix the following ingredients together in a bowl. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid.

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

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Roasted Chicken: A Classic Dish Everyone should Know How to Prepare

This is a slightly fancy version of a basic roasted chicken. A simple roasted chicken is an easy, cheap main course to serve any day or night of the week. A basic rub of salt, pepper, and splash of olive oil will do, but this recipe adds a few extra flavors to make a classic dish special.

Garlic Compound Butter

Another fun part of this recipe is making the garlic herb compound butter.Compound butter is basically flavored butter–you allow the butter to come to room temperature,add your favorite herbs and spices (in this case 2 cloves minced garlic), and stir to combine thoroughly. You can use the flavored butter immediately or store in an airtight container for future use. A common use for such flavored butters is to top a warm steak to add an extra layer of richness. In this case, I smear the butter underneath the skin of the chicken before roasting to give the chicken rich flavor of garlic in the meat as well as help the skin to turn out brown, crispy, and full of flavor.

Ingredients:

1 whole roasting chicken

1/4 cup garlic compound butter (see note above)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 whole lemons (1 quartered, 1 left whole)

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and rinse the chicken; let drain for about 2 minutes. Pat chicken dry. Rub the compound butter underneath the skin (this is kind of a gross process–but it is worth it) all over the main meat areas of the chicken (breasts, thighs, drumsticks–but these are hard to get too without tearing the skin too much) and inside the cavity. Pour lemon juice on outside of chicken and inside cavity–coating fully. Rub salt and pepper along outside of chicken and inside cavity as well (to your taste preference). Lastly, stuff the lemon quarters inside the chicken cavity; rub the whole lemon on a solid surface to loosen up the juices and puncture skin with a fork–stuff the whole lemon on the outside of the cavity (if it is sticking out a bit that is ok). Tie the chicken legs together with twine and tuck the wings under the chicken to promote even cooking. Lay the chicken breast side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered. After this initial 15 minutes lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Remove the chicken and flip so that it is breast side up. Continue to roast the chicken until done (meat thermometer reaches 165 in the dark meat (thigh)). This is usually about 20 minutes per pound. Remove the chicken from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before carving.

Save the chicken pan drippings to drizzle over the sliced chicken–this will rev up the delicious garlic, lemon flavor to the roasted chicken.

Use leftover cooked chicken to top salads, make sandwiches, or chicken pie!

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