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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2022, I’m still doing 99% of the blogging and holding out hope that these two lovely and excellent cooks will participate. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

Am in the middle of Tidelands,  by Philippa Gregory. It tells the tale of a peasant woman, Alinor (an herbalist and midwife), who lives barely above the poverty level, trying to raise two children, during the time of great turmoil in England, the rancorous civil war about Charles 1. Her husband has disappeared. The feudal system at the time isn’t any friend to Alinor. In comes a man (of course) who is a priest, but to the Catholic king, not the Protestant people, and everything Catholic is abhorred and suspect. A fascinating read, loving every chapter so far.

Read Reminders of Him, by Colleen Hoover. A page turner of a story. A young woman is convicted of a crime (young and foolish type). Once released her sole purpose is to be a part of her daughter’s life. Hoover has such a gift of story-telling and keeping you hanging on a cliff.

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. Oh my goodness. The wicked webs we weave. How in the world did the author even come UP with this wild story, but she did, and it kept me glued. Sophie walked away from her wedding day, and always wondered if she made the wrong decision. Then she inherits his aunt’s house, back in her home town, where the quizzical Munro baby disappearance provides a living for many of his family. Sophie moves there, only to have to unearth all the bad stuff that happened before. Quite a story.

Very funny and poignant story, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor (no, not that one). Mrs. Palfrey, a woman of a certain age, moves into an old folks’ home in London. It’s a sort of hotel, but has full time elderly quirky residents. You get to know them all, and Mrs. Palfrey’s subterfuge effort to show off her “grandson.” I might not have ever picked up this book, but one of my book clubs had us read it, and I’m ever so glad I did.

I’ve been on a Moriarty tangent lately, this one Three Wishes, is about three triplets (women), two identical, one fraternal, as they progress through their 33rd year of life. So many twists and turns for each one. As someone said on amazon, Liane Moriarty never disappoints with providing a good story.

For one of my book clubs we read Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus. This book is so hard to describe. Elizabeth is a wizard at chemistry and struggles to be recognized for her intelligence and research. She meets a man at her company who is brilliant too. They make quite a pair. They have a child, then he suddenly dies. Her work isn’t taken seriously, so she leaves her employment and becomes an overnight phenom on a cooking show where she uses the chemical names for things like sodium chloride, etc. You go alongside her struggles, and her raising of her daughter. LOTS of humor, lots to discuss for a book club.

Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loved it from the first page to the last. Sad when it ended. It’s a fictional creation but based on a real racehorse owned by a black man, back in the 1850s. Technically, the story is about a painting of the horse but there are many twists and turns. If you’ve ever enjoyed Brooks’ books in the past, this one won’t disappoint.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel (no, not Hannah). Certainly a little-known chunk of history about a woman who becomes a master forger during WWII to help get Jewish children out of France. Not easy to read, meaning the difficulty of anyone finding the means and place to DO the forgery and right under the noses of the Nazis. Really good read.

Liane Moriarty’s first novel, Three Wishes, follows the travails of adult triplets, so different, yet similar in many ways. Two are identical, the third is not. So alike, and so not. It takes you through a series of heart-wrenching events, seemingly unrelated, but ones that could bring a family to its breaking point and test the bonds of love and strength.

Recently I’ve read both of Erin French’s books, her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, and since then her memoir, Finding Freedom. About her life growing up (difficult) about her coming of age mostly working in the family diner, flipper burgers and fries (and learning how much she liked to cook). Now she’s a very successful restaurant entrepreneur (The Lost Kitchen is also the name of her restaurant) in the miniscule town of Freedom, Maine. She’s not a classically trained chef, but she’s terrifically creative. See her TV series on Discover+ if you subscribe.

Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. To say that this book stretched my comfort zone is the least of it . . .think about a time in the not very distant future, when global warming has done it’s worst and nearly all animals are extinct.

Jo Jo Moyes has a bunch of books to her credit. And she writes well, with riveting stories. Everything I’ve read of hers has been good. This book, The Girl You Left Behind, is so different, so intriguing, so controversial and a fascinating historical story. There are two timelines here, one during WWI, in France, when a relatively unknown painter (in the style of Matisse) paints a picture of his wife. The war intervenes for both the husband and the wife.

Eli Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees. This book was just a page turner. If you’ve never read anything about the conflict in Cyprus (the island) between the Turks and the Greeks, you’re in for a big history lesson here. But, the entire story centers around a fig tree. You get into the head/brain/feelings of this big fig tree which plays a very central part of the story. You’ll learn a lot about animals, insects (ants, mosquitos, butterflies) and other flora and fauna of Cyprus.

If you’re a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro, you’ll find his newest book a league apart. Klara and the Sun. It takes place in the near future when we humans can go to a store and buy an AF (artificial friend). These robotic humanoid “things” have knowledge and personalities.

Also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Ohhh my, such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Whatever you do, do not read the ending before you start the book. I’ve never understood people who do this. The book chronicles the day a mom just ups and disappears. The grown children come back home, in panic. The dad isn’t much help, and he becomes the prime suspect of foul play. There is no body, however.

Amor Towles’ new book, The Lincoln Highway: A Novel. Literally it’s a page turner. I think it’s still on the best seller list. A young man, Emmett, is released from a youth work camp (back in the day) and is returned home (by the camp warden) following the death of his father, to find that the home they’d lived in was in foreclosure. His mother abandoned them years before. His intent is to pick up his 8-year old brother and they will head off for Texas.

If you’d like a mystery read, try Dete Meserve’s The Space Between. It’s just the kind of page-turner I enjoy – a wife returns to her home after being away on business for a few days, to find her husband missing and what he’s left for her is an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean.

Read Alyson Richman’s historical novel called The Velvet Hours. Most of the book takes place in Paris, with a young woman and her grandmother, a very wealthy (but aging) woman who led a life of a semi-courtesan. Or at least a kept woman. But this grandmother was very astute and found ways to invest her money, to grow her money, and to buy very expensive goods. Then WWII intervenes, and the granddaughter has to close up her grandmother’s apartment, leaving it much the way it had been throughout her grandmother’s life, to escape the Nazis. Years go by, and finally answers are sought and found. An intriguing book, based on the author’s experience with an apartment that had been locked up similarly for decades, also in Paris.

Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors. This book, The Nature of Fragile Things tells a very unusual story. About a young Irish immigrant, desperate to find a way out of poverty, answers an ad for a mail order bride.

Also read Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk. You could call this a romance. A young professional, a writer of one successful book, has writer’s block. Then she’s asked to go to Florida to help her mother (from whom she’s mostly estranged) through chemo. She goes, hoping she can find new inspiration.

One of my book clubs has us reading Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library: A Novel. What a premise for a book. About a library you can whiz to in the middle of the night and discover other lives you could have lived. And experience them. To find out the answers to those questions we ask ourselves sometimes, “I wonder what would have happened if I’d . . . .” taken that other job, gone out with that guy, taken that trip.

James Shipman has written an intriguing book, It Is Well: A Novel, about a man who has lost his wife. And about a woman who has lost her husband. But their relationship stalls, big time, because the guy made a promise to his wife, and he feels duty-bound to honor it.

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then becomes something else. There is graphic detail here.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Beef, Vegetarian, on November 18th, 2022.

Comfort food – think all the ingredients of cabbage rolls, but in a casserole.

A post from Carolyn. You’ll likely find a bunch of recipes out there for cabbage roll casseroles. I looked at about 15 maybe before deciding on one, but then I tweaked it some. First, I substituted Impossible burger meat instead of ground beef. You can use beef, or ground chicken or turkey too. In a casserole like this, I doubt anyone could tell the difference!

There’s another recipe here on my blog that’s a similar concoction, Unstuffed Sweet & Sour Cabbage, posted waaay back when – in 2008. My goodness, how time flies. I also have made a similar mixture into a soup. But I prefer the sweet/sour aspect of this recipe and my 2008 one.

First a chopped up an onion and sizzled that a bit in a big frying pan with a bit of oil. Then garlic, some celery (not in the original recipe), then the beef substitute. It cooks up just like ground beef, looking like raw, with redness, then it cooks out the red. Then a big can of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste are added. Paprika and thyme were sprinkled in. I also added some half-sharp paprika too. Since most of you won’t have that (you can buy it at Penzey’s), just add a little jot of Sriracha to the mixture. I added some beef soup base (not much) to give it a bit more beefy flavor, though you could use vegetable soup base just as easily. I added a little bit of caraway seed, ground sage, celery seed too. Those weren’t in the original recipe either.

Meanwhile I cooked up 2/3 cup of basmati rice (long grain) and set it aside. Once the sauce came to a boil I simmered it for about 20 minutes to meld the flavors. I poured it out into a big bowl. Then I chopped up a big green cabbage. Some recipes leave the cabbage in wedges, but I liked the idea of layering the cabbage and the “meat” sauce, so I cut it into about 1″ squares, approximately. That got sautéed a bit in oil and water (in the original pot), then steamed until mostly cooked. One recipe cautioned that the baking of  the casserole doesn’t cook the cabbage any further, so it needs to be fully cooked before composing the casserole.

Into a big 9×13 pan it went – half of the cabbage – then half the “meat”, then the remaining cabbage and remaining “meat.” I also sprinkled on some fresh dill in between the layers and some more on top when it was served.

This makes a generous quantity, and it’s very filling. I ate one portion and then squared out  more portions and put them in freezer containers for another day. Always happy for that occurrence. I used some plastic wrap to mold (pressed directly on) the top of the food itself, then put the plastic lid on top. I didn’t want it to grow ice crystals, so hope that will be a good solution. My cousin Gary is coming to visit over Thanksgiving, so this will make a nice dinner for us one night.

What’s GOOD: loved the ease of making this – it’ll serve at least 8-10 people. I liked that the whole casserole had just 2 cups of cooked rice in it (since I try to limit carbs). Loved the flavors, the sweet (from the tomatoes) and the sour (from the little bit of cider vinegar added at the end). You might ask – why did she put in celery? Because of the flavor – celery adds a nice addition to flavors. It probably isn’t in cabbage rolls. I try to add more veggies wherever I can.

What’s NOT: nothing really. It made a mound of dirty dishes, but it wasn’t all that bad. I miss my dear hubby who used to wash all the dishes for me – that was our deal – I cooked – he cleaned up.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cabbage Roll Casserole

Recipe By: Adapted a lot from Spend with Pennies blog
Serving Size: 9

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion — diced
1/2 cup celery — chopped
3 cloves garlic — crushed
1 pound meat substitute — like Impossible or Beyond Beef, or lean ground beef, or ground pork, or 1/2 pound of each
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes — including juice
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon beef broth concentrate — or vegetable broth concentrate
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon half-sharp paprika — or add Sriracha to taste
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups cooked rice — (about 2/3 cup raw)
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dill weed — optional
CABBAGE:
1 large head cabbage — about 12-14 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil — or more if needed
4 tablespoons water
TOPPING:
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese — grated
1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese — grated
fresh dill weed sprinkled on top

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. in a large skillet sauté onion and celery in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Then add garlic and the meat of choice over medium heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat. Stir in diced tomatoes (including juice), tomato sauce, tomato paste, and all seasonings – broth concentrate, paprika, half-sharp paprika or Sriracha, thyme, sage, caraway, celery seeds, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and add cooked rice. Add cider vinegar and stir thoroughly so it’s mixed well throughout. Taste for seasonings (may need more salt). Remove meat to a bowl and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, chop cabbage into 1″ squares. Heat half the oil in same large skillet and add 1/2 of the cabbage and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook just until softened (about 10 minutes). Watch carefully so cabbage doesn’t burn, adding more water if needed until cabbage is cooked through. Repeat with remaining cabbage. Place 1/2 of the cooked cabbage in a 9×13 casserole dish. It will just barely cover the bottom of the casserole. Top with 1/2 of the meat sauce. Sprinkle some fresh dill in between layers. Repeat layers of cabbage and sauce.
4. Sprinkle top of casserole with a generous portion of the two cheeses. You may refrigerate the casserole for a later time (allow to cool first). When ready to bake, remove casserole from refrigerator for about an hour before baking – it may take longer to bake.
5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until top of casserole (the cheese) is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling around the edges. If you’re not sure it’s thoroughly heated, test casserole in the center with an instant read thermometer and casserole should read 165°F. Remove from oven then sprinkle more diill weed on top. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, cut and serve.
Per Serving: 514 Calories; 33g Fat (56.7% calories from fat); 35g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 78mg Cholesterol; 1039mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 757mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 494mg Potassium; 632mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, Soups, on October 25th, 2022.

Just look at that deep, dark color. I’d never made chili this way. Read on.

A post from Carolyn. We had a few days of cooler weather, a harbinger of fall, here in SoCal, and my taste buds turned to winter weather foods. First I craved chili, so I decided to try a new recipe. I have a deep respect for the work that the folks at Cook’s Illustrated do, and sure enough, I had a recipe to try. They called it “Best Ground Beef Chili.”

Right off the top, I’ll tell you, this isn’t a 1-2-3 done kind of chili. It requires a few steps and about 2 hours in a low oven too. But oh, my goodness, is this ever good. The dried ancho chiles are the key ingredient in this version. Well, there are a couple of other oddball ingredients in this too, but the ancho chiles are certainly the first and foremost. They are stemmed, seeded, and cut or torn into chunky pieces. They go into a dry Dutch oven and are toasted. You’d think they’re already toasted with the color of them, but they’re not – they’re simply dried chiles. The picture at right shows the ancho pieces as they toast away in the dry Dutch oven. Do watch the pot, though, and make sure they don’t begin to smoke. If they do, turn down the heat – but stir them a lot as they toast. You cannot tell they are getting toasted, just trust the recipe.

Meanwhile, I mixed up the lean ground beef with 2 T of water and a bit of baking soda. Say what, I asked? Why? Well, doing that helps the beef retain its moisture as it cooks and helps the beef to not shed all of its juices. What an idea! That bowl was set aside to rest while I began the other steps. Onion was sautéed in the Dutch oven (same one I used for the chiles). The toasted chiles went into a food processor along with a whole bunch of dried spices and herbs. That got whizzed up into a fine dust and was added to the onion. A large can of whole tomatoes was also pureed (I guess you could buy already pureed tomatoes if you’d rather). They say the whole tomatoes have better flavor; I suppose that’s why you whiz them up yourself. The ground beef was added to the Dutch oven, the spices and the tomatoes. Plus a few other minor ingredients like chipotle chiles in adobo, a can of pinto beans, a tetch of sugar and a couple cups of water. That was brought up to a boil, lid affixed, and it went into a 275° oven for 1 1/2 hours (or up to 2).

Once out of the oven, the mixture needs to get stirred as the fat rises to the top. Stir it in to get more flavor. The chili is so SO dark colored. Those toasted chiles really did their job of coloring the entire pot full. You also add 2 T of cider vinegar. What that does for the chili I don’t know – I couldn’t really taste it. Guess it gave it a bit of tang, perhaps? The recipe recommends serving it over rice and/or tortilla chips. I did neither as I didn’t want the carbs. A serving is about 1 to 1 1/4 cups – it’s rich, so a little goes a long ways. All the toppings give texture too. Grated cheese, avocado, red onion, crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, lime wedges, chopped cilantro – any and all of those go with it.

What’s GOOD: everything about this chili is stellar. Deep, dark flavor from those ancho chiles. The chili is just slightly warm (go easy on the chipotle if you’re sensitive to heat). Notice, there is NO chili powder in this chili. Loved it from the first to the last slurp. A definite keeper. Thanks to Cook’s Illustrated.

What’s NOT: nothing other than it takes a few hours to prepare and more cooking prep than some recipes. But you’ll be rewarded at the end for all your hard work.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chili with Deep Dark Anchos

Recipe By: Cook’s Illustrated
Servings: 8

2 pounds lean ground beef
2 tablespoons water Salt and pepper
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 whole dried ancho chiles — stemmed, seeded, and torn into 1-inch pieces
1 ounce tortilla chips — crushed (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
14 ounces canned tomatoes — whole
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion — chopped fine
3 garlic cloves — minced
1 teaspoon chipotle chiles
15 ounces canned pinto beans
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Lime wedges
Coarsely chopped cilantro
Chopped red onion

NOTES: Diced avocado, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese are also good options for garnishing. This chili is intensely flavored and should be served with tortilla chips and/or steamed white rice. The water and soda added to the ground beef help the meat hold on to moisture, so it doesn’t shed liquid during cooking.
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 275°F.
2. In a bowl combine ground beef with 2 tablespoons water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and baking soda in bowl. Mix with hands until thoroughly combined. Set aside for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, place anchos in dry Dutch oven set over medium-high heat; toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes, reducing heat if anchos begin to smoke. Transfer to food processor and let cool.
3. Add tortilla chips, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, coriander, oregano, thyme, and 2 teaspoons pepper to food processor with anchos and process until finely ground, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl and set aside. Process tomatoes and their juice in empty workbowl until smooth, about 30 seconds.
4. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef mixture and cook, stirring with wooden spoon to break meat up into 1/4-inch pieces, until beef is browned and fond begins to form on pot bottom, 12 to 14 minutes. Add ancho mixture and chipotle; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Add 2 cups water, beans and their liquid, sugar, and tomato puree. Bring to boil, scraping bottom of pot to loosen any browned bits. Cover, transfer to oven, and cook until meat is tender and chili is slightly thickened, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
6. Remove chili from oven and let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in any fat that has risen to top of chili, then add vinegar and season with salt to taste. Serve, passing lime wedges, cilantro, and chopped onion separately. (Chili can be made up to 3 days in advance.) One serving is about 1-1/4 cup.
Per Serving: 257 Calories; 7g Fat (26.3% calories from fat); 28g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 70mg Cholesterol; 464mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 91mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 751mg Potassium; 316mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, Grilling, on August 26th, 2022.

What do you think about tri-tip? Like it? Not? Too gristly? Flavor? 

A post from Carolyn.  I’ve not ever been a big fan of tri-tip. Too tough, usually. The flavor was always good – good, strong, beefy flavor; but the texture was chewy; usually too chewy for my taste. I mean, I love-me a good ribeye. That’s my fav. But I was feeding a crowd and served grilled Italian sausage and this tri-tip. My friend Dianne fixed this beef a few weeks ago when she invited Taylor and me to dinner, and I really liked it. It happened that the slices I had contained next to no fat or gristle. Not so much when I made it myself (above). But the flavor was great. I liked the marinade. The tri-tip happened to be on sale at one of my local markets . . . now I suppose I could have gotten one that wasn’t trimmed as well . . . I don’t know.

You do need to trim the meat of visible fat and gristle. And there’s a piece of silver skin on one side that also needs to be removed. That takes a bit of hand labor. But worth the effort. Marinate the meat for 24 hours if time permits. This recipe came from an ancient Sunset Magazine and is still available online. Dianne had a copy of the faded page from the magazine as she’s been making this for a bunch of years.

As I type this, I’m serving it again this week to a different gathering – my granddaughter’s nursing school graduation party. I’m expecting 18 people – some family and a bunch of my friends who have gotten to know (and love) Taylor since she’s lived with me. It’s been hot-hot here in our neck of the woods, so we may be eating inside (I don’t know where I’ll seat 18 people – it’ll take some ingenuity). I’m doing another coil of sausage (see cooked sausage coil at left), this tri-tip and also a full slab of slow-roasted salmon with a garlic vinaigrette on top. Then with tons of sides and salads. And daughter Sara is bringing a cheesecake (lemon strawberry is what Taylor requested). A few people are bringing something to help out.

So I read, tri-tip isn’t a cut of meat available in all areas of our country. A lot here in California. But in other places, they’ve never heard of it. It’s from the bottom sirloin and has a triangular shape with a long tapered end, hence tri – – tip(s). Most people dry roast it but it can also be marinated and grilled like a steak. That’s what we did. My son barbecued the meat for me as I was busy in the kitchen. He also grilled a complete round (coil) of Italian sausage with Mozzarella cheese in it. SO SO good. We have a good Italian restaurant in Newport Beach (Sabatino’s) that has a butcher department attached to the restaurant. The coil was $42 – probably about 2 1/2 pounds. Not sure, I didn’t weigh it.

Back to this tri-tip. It’s marinated in a very simple solution – reduced sodium soy sauce, dried oregano, garlic, a jot of liquid smoke, pepper and a bunch of fresh cilantro. But first, you cut some long 1/2″ deep slits in the roast so the marinade can get into the crevices. Next time I’ll poke it all over with a fork, too. Into a plastic bag it’ll go, and several times over the 24 hours turn the bag over and over. There really isn’t much marinade, so you need to continue to flip it over in the frig numerous times. Let is sit out for 30 minutes or so, then it goes onto a medium-high grill for about 10 minutes per side, or until it gets to 125°F in the center, to get that meat a lovely medium-rare. It needs to rest for about 5 minutes (foil-covered) then you slice it SUPER-THIN across the grain. If people prefer more well done, the tapered end will be more well cooked. I served it with an ancho chili dip/sauce (posting in a few days).

What’s GOOD: Good, beefy flavor, needs marinating so don’t skimp on the 24-hour time. Cut into super-thin slices, it’s a very nice steak type entrée. Some people prefer a more chewy beef texture – this is it. Love the flavor from the marinade. The meat would like a sauce to go with it.

What’s NOT: making time for the marinating is about it. Don’t expect this to taste like ribeye, though, because it’s far from it. If you don’t live in California you might have trouble getting the cut of meat – you’d have to ask a butcher to cut it.

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Grilled Tri-Tip Roast with Cilantro

Recipe By: Tanya Newgent, San Diego, via Sunset Magazine
Servings: 8

2 1/2 pounds beef tri-tip roast
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons liquid smoke — optional
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Cilantro sprigs

1. Trim and discard excess fat from beef and remove any silver skin. Cut 1-inch-long slits about 1/2 inch deep and about 1 inch apart over top and bottom of roast.
2. Mix soy sauce, chopped cilantro, liquid smoke, oregano, garlic, and pepper in a heavy-duty plastic bag.
3. Add meat and spoon soy mixture into slits. Spoon remaining mixture over meat. Refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the roast every 3-4 hours or as often as possible.
4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (you can hold your hand at grill level only 3 to 4 seconds). Cover gas grill. Cook roast, turning once, until a thermometer inserted in center of thickest part registers 125° for rare, 20 to 25 minutes total (so about 10 minutes per side) for a 1 1/2- to 2-inch-thick piece. Tapered end will cook faster, so try to place it away from heat.
5. Transfer meat to a board and let rest about 5 minutes. Cut across the grain in very thin slices. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve with a sauce of some kind: try an ancho chili and sour cream mixture.
Per Serving: 241 Calories; 12g Fat (46.8% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 94mg Cholesterol; 330mg Sodium; trace Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 45mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 487mg Potassium; 282mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, easy, on April 28th, 2022.

I do love my Instant Pot. This meal came together in a flash.

A post from Carolyn. As it turned out, we were invited out for St. Patrick’s Day dinner. But I’d already bought a corned beef – might I just say, a small corned beef at Trader Joe’s was close to $25. And that great big piece of meat becomes a small little bit of meat when it’s done cooking. That’s always the case with brisket, however.

Beef has become a treat anytime with prices like that. Even ground beef is pricey. But anyway, I needed to cook the corned beef. I waited a couple of weeks. Researched a few recipes online and decided on this one. I had Savoy cabbage, carrots and onions. I don’t eat potatoes hardly at all, and can’t say that we missed them. However, I’d have eaten them if I’d added them to the pot!

I made a bed of onions and garlic in the Instant Pot, then added in the rinsed corned beef on top. You can use beef broth or water, then seal and cook under pressure for 70 minutes. Some recipes say 90 minutes, but others said 70. Mine was a smaller brisket so I went with 70. The very tender corned beef was removed and set aside, covered with foil. The carrots and cabbage were added back into the Instant Pot (with all the cooking water) and pressure cooked for 2 minutes. Yes, two minutes. So easy and quick. Onto the platter everything went and I put out grainy mustard and horseradish to augment the corned beef. Altogether delicious.

What’s GOOD: how quick and easy this meal was to make from beginning to end. A 70-minute cooking time in the Instant Pot might make it hard to do for a weeknight if you’re a working family, but it was sure easy in every other way. Veggies were perfect after two minutes under pressure.

What’s NOT: really nothing – not very big servings, but then, we didn’t need a lot.

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Instant Pot Corned Beef, Cabbage and Veggies

Recipe By: Adapted from Pressure Cooking Today
Serving Size: 6

3 pound corned beef brisket — brined in the package
4 cups low sodium beef broth
1 large onion — cut in wedges
8 cloves garlic
3 large carrots — cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small Savoy cabbage — cut into 8 wedges

1. Rinse the corned beef under cold water to remove herbs and seasonings, and discard brine.
2. Place onions and garlic in bottom of pot. Place corned beef on top and add about 3 cups of beef broth or water.
3. Lock the lid in place and cook under high pressure for 70 minutes. When beep sounds, allow pot to cool for 10 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure. When valve drops carefully remove lid. Test meat for tenderness. If necessary, continue cooking under pressure for another 10 minutes if the brisket is not done.
4. Remove the corned beef and set aside, covered lightly with foil.
5. Add carrots and cabbage to the broth in the Instant Pot. Lock the lid in place. Select high pressure and set the timer for 2 minutes. When beep sounds, turn off pressure cooker and do a quick pressure release to release pressure. When valve drops carefully remove lid. Check vegetables for done-ness. If they’re not done, cook under pressure for one more minute.
6. Slice corned beef across the grain into serving pieces and place on a platter along with the vegetables. Serve with grainy mustard and horseradish on the side.
Per Serving: 487 Calories; 34g Fat (63.9% calories from fat); 36g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 123mg Cholesterol; 3117mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 46mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 871mg Potassium; 306mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, easy, on October 17th, 2021.

This is a post from Sara. FAST & FLAVORFUL.

These days I am without the hustle and bustle of chicks at home as we are officially Empty Nesters.  But I am amazed at how little time I have to make dinner.  So I find myself searching for new quick and healthy recipes.  This is a recipe I found online that is SUPER easy.  I mean 20 mins start to finish easy!  And so tasty.  I was looking for something to do with the ground beef I’d bought that wasn’t tacos, or hamburgers.  And this recipe fit the bill perfectly!  It is so flavorful with a hint of heat.  I added the steamed cauliflower to satisfy my need for veggies.  You could add any type of cooked veggie, frozen would work easily too.  This also made excellent leftovers for lunch the next day.

Starting with the rice since it usually takes 20 mins.  Then I cut and cleaned the fresh cauliflower, dropped it into the steamer to cook.  I began browning the beef and garlic in a shallow pan.  While that was cooking, I mixed the sauce ingredients.  When the beef has no more pink, I added the sauce and let it cook on low for a few mins.  Then I fluffed the rice and was ready to assemble.

I used a bowl, layering the rice, beef then cauliflower.  I topped it with sliced scallions.  My husband enjoyed this dish with a bit of siracha to kick up the spice and a nice IPA (well, not with the leftovers at work!)

This will be a repeat in my rotation for sure!  I imagine one could substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef, but you may need to increase the spices to give it more flavor.

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Korean Beef and Rice

Serving Size: 4

1 pound lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 cups hot cooked rice
3 green onions — thinly sliced
2 cups cauliflower — steamed

1. In a large skillet, cook beef and garlic over medium heat until beef is no longer pink, breaking into crumbles. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix brown sugar, soy sauce, oil and seasonings.
2. Stir sauce into beef, heat through. Serve over rice and cauliflower.
Per Serving: 551 Calories; 26g Fat (43.3% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 85mg Cholesterol; 703mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 3 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Posted in Beef, on April 30th, 2021.

braised_corned_beef

The most succulent corned beef I’ve ever had. Bar none.

On St. Paddy’s Day (actually it was the day before – they were celebrating early), my son and his family invited me to their home for the day and evening. I’d been thinking about having a traditional corned beef dinner, but with being just me-myself-and-I, how could I eat up several pounds of corned beef? Yes, I could freeze some, but I don’t know about you, but I’m never quite so happy with leftovers once they’ve been frozen. So when they invited me, I jumped. A few days ago I shared the recipe for Colcannon that I made for the dinner.

Karen made this braised corned beef that was just off-the-charts. It was the most tasty and tender corned beef I’ve ever had. She bought 5 pounds of corned beef (larger than most grocery store cuts) and there were 4 of us for dinner, and maybe smaller portion leftovers for the 3 of them for another night. If you buy a smaller corned beef, it will still need the same number of hours of braising, you’ll just have less of it. As you no doubt know, corned beef shrinks a lot once cooked.

She’s been using this same recipe for several years, and she says it’s SO easy. She found the recipe at allrecipes.com. What’s different about it? Well, most recipes I’ve ever made, you simmer the beef for maybe 2-2 1/2 hours max. This recipe IS different. First Karen slathered both sides of the beef with HP sauce. You probably could use A-1, but HP is the British version. Once slathered, she browned it first on the stovetop in a little bit of vegetable oil, then put it into a big roasting pan on a rack, and covered the top with yellow onions and slivered garlic. Water was added to the pot and she covered the pot with foil to seal it really well. A note of caution: when browning the meat, wear an apron and also if possible put newspaper down on the floor, as the meat throws off a lot of spatter. Enough that their dog, Shelby, slipped in the grease and fell in it (I expect there was a bit of dog-licking-floor action going on after that). So, pay attention to that part.

braised_corned_beef_in_panThe tight foil-sealed roasting pan then went into a 275°F oven for just about 6 hours. I put 5 hours on the photo, but it was actually 6 hours. And you do not want to pull it out to “check on it.” If you do, it loses all that head of steam that’s been slowly tenderizing the meat. So do NOT open the foil covered pan at all during that time. If you do, add about another hour of baking time.

Once out of the oven, Karen put it on a big cutting board (see picture at top). You can see all the HP sauce browned into the top (picture at left). Brisket contains a goodly amount of water, and plenty of fat, so you can see there was about a scant cup of liquid in the bottom of the pan. I was surprised at the addition of just one tablespoon of water – but Karen assured me the recipe is correct. She thinks the onions also provide some liquid.

What’s GOOD: oh my. So succulent and juicy. SOO very tender. The most tender corned beef I’ve ever had. This will be my new go-to recipe.

What’s NOT: only that you need to plan ahead as it requires 6 hours of baking time, plus the 25-30 minutes of browning first.

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Braised Corned Beef Brisket

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from All Recipes
Serving Size: 7

5 pounds corned beef brisket — flat cut
2 tablespoons HP sauce — British imported browning sauce, similar to A-1 sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion — sliced
6 cloves garlic — sliced
2 tablespoons water

1. Preheat oven to 275°F (135 degrees C).
2. Discard any flavoring packet from corned beef. Brush brisket with HP browning sauce on both sides. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown brisket on both sides in the hot oil, 5 to 8 minutes per side. Advice from my daughter-in-law: Do wear an apron, and you might put newspaper on the floor around your stove, as the browning process throws off a lot of grease.
3. Place brisket on a rack set in a roasting pan. Scatter onion and garlic slices over brisket and add water to roasting pan. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Do not open the foil at all during the braising time as it will lose all of the built-up steam.
4. Roast in the preheated oven until meat is tender, about 6 hours.
Per Serving: 669 Calories; 50g Fat (69.0% calories from fat); 48g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 175mg Cholesterol; 3949mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 31mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 996mg Potassium; 388mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, Miscellaneous, on April 11th, 2021.

argentinian_steak_red_chimichurri_sauce

Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Listen up. You just gotta make this. I can’t praise this enough. If you like steak, this is your lucky day. The recipe was demonstrated on Milk Street, and Jim Hirsch, one of the producers, went to Argentina and his job, with the film crew, was to find out what makes Argentinian steak so special. Certainly steak is the signature dish of Argentina. They raise a LOT of beef cattle in the country. My granddaughter, Sabrina, spent 5 months in Argentina (not exactly a happy experience, I’m sorry to say, even though it was through her university college exchange program). But she told me she had steak similar to this when she was there.

Normally, in Argentina, steak is grilled outside, on a grill that has an adjustable grate level – in other words, you can lower it to be close to the coals, or way up high (more like 10-12 inches), away from the wood coals. Most restaurants make this steak with a 2-hour grilling. Can you imagine? Likely they do that to have a very precise control over the temperature.

strip_steak_seasonedOnce the Milk Street crew returned to Boston, they began trying to recreate this steak (using American/different equipment) – and the chimichurri sauce. Speaking of the sauce, you may be familiar with green chimichurri sauce (that’s all I’d ever had prior to making this). This red sauce is a strange combination of things – 1/4 cup sweet paprika, 1/4 cup red pepper flakes (yes, really), and 1/4 cup dried oregano, and lastly 3/4 cup of neutral oil. Added later, garlic and balsamic vinegar. If you’ve ever watched Chris Kimball (he’s the guy who started Cook’s Illustrated, but was ousted some years ago and started Milk Street) you know that he does not like spicy heat. Not that he’s into bland food, but heat bothers his palate. So when they were making this in the test kitchen, when he was asked to add 1/4 CUP of red pepper flakes, he said oh-no, no, I won’t be able to eat this. The chef pleaded with him to follow the recipe and he might be surprised. And indeed he was, and so was I.

At left is the photo of the beautiful New York strip steak, 2” thick, with the rub on it (having rested in the frig for 24 hours), on a rack, before it went into the oven. One of these steaks will serve at least 2 people, maybe even 3 people.

There are a few steps to making this:

1. Make a rub of black pepper, freshly grated nutmeg (lots of it) and sugar. Put it on the 2” thick steak.

2. Place the steak on a rack, open, in the refrigerator, for 24 hours.

3. Put the steak in a 250°F oven for about 45 minutes. Remove it and let it rest for 30 minutes.

4. Make the sauce.

5. Grill the steak in a searing hot pan on the stove (or do this on your outdoor grill) to caramelize the two sides, then let it rest for 10 minutes. Get the rest of the meal ready.

6. Slice the steak across the grain, in 1/4” thick slices, plate it and drizzle the sauce on the ends and offer more sauce at the table.

red_chimichurri_cookingThe sauce takes no time, really, to make, but there are steps to making it also. In a skillet you combine the oil, paprika, red chili flakes and the oregano, and cook it over very low heat (never allowing it to boil) for 5-7 minutes. Then you add the garlic, and let it cool. Once cool, you add the balsamic vinegar and salt. The photo at right is before it even cooked – so you can see the ingredients.

When Chris Kimball tasted the sauce, he first barely touched his bite of steak with the oily part of the sauce, as he was not thinking he could eat it. He was surprised, and my friend Linda and I (when we made it) were also amazed that our mouths weren’t burning up. The guesswork is that the addition of 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar somehow tempers the spicy, fiery heat of 1/4 cup of red pepper flakes.

The only thing I’ll say is that you need a meat thermometer for this recipe – I eat my steak medium-rare, and you remove the steak from the oven when it reaches 110°F (about 10-15 degrees below that magic medium-rare temp). I did that, but during the resting time, the temp went up nearly 10 degrees, and once I seared it, it went up even more. We got it out of the pan at about 128°F, which is a few degrees higher than I wanted. So watch it carefully.

What’s GOOD: I absolutely LOVE-LOVED this steak and the sauce. Definitely well enough to make it again. You do need to plan ahead 24 hours, and make sure you have a whole pod of nutmeg for each steak. You do not taste nutmeg in the rub when eating it. It’s uncanny there could be so much nutmeg on the rub and you wouldn’t taste it in the finished steak (although I was able to taste it when I ate the leftovers, cold). And the sauce – oh my goodness. So good. Very easy – make it the day ahead to save time if you’d like. It’s also uncanny there is so much red pepper in the sauce and I could eat it. I won’t say I ate copious quantities, but I certainly ate some with every bite, and went back for more.

What’s NOT: only that the steak is expensive (do buy a good one, though I did choose choice, not prime beef); however, one steak will feed 2 people, maybe 3. You do have to visit a butcher, as the steak must be 2” thick. I don’t know of any grocery store that has pre-cut 2” steaks. The nearly one pound steak cost me $29. The recipe is for feeding 4, so twice that amount. And you do need to plan ahead, as I mentioned, so the steak can sit in the frig for 24 hours.

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Grilled and Oven-Baked Argentinian Strip Steak with Red Chimichurri

Recipe By: Milk Street, Jim Hirsch
Serving Size: 5

STEAK:
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg — from two whole nutmeg pods
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 strip beef strip steaks — (about 20 ounces each) about 2″ thick, patted dry
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil — or other neutral oil
RED CHIMICHURRI SAUCE:
3/4 cup neutral oil
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/4 cup red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dried oregano — do not use fresh
2 medium garlic cloves — finely grated
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
kosher salt

NOTES: Using this much red pepper flakes seems like WAY too much. You can reduce the amount by about a tablespoon, but apparently the balsamic vinegar tempers the heat. This red chimichurri is not as well known in the U.S. as the green herb style.
1. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, the nutmeg and sugar. Measure out and reserve 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mixture, then rub the remainder onto all sides of the steaks, pressing it into the meat. Place the steaks on the prepared rack and refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
2. Heat the oven to 250°F with a rack in the middle position.
3. Place the baking sheet with the steaks in the oven and cook until the centers reach 110°F, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for up to 30 minutes.
4. In a 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Place the steaks in the skillet and cook, without moving them, until well browned, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the steaks and cook until the second sides are well browned and the centers reach 120°F (for medium-rare), 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Transfer the steaks to a large plate and let rest for 10 minutes. Alternatively, the steaks can be seared for the same time over direct heat on a very hot charcoal or gas grill with a well-oiled grate.
6. Transfer the steaks to a carving board and cut into thin slices. Place on a platter, pour on the accumulated juices and sprinkle with the reserved seasoning mixture.
7. SAUCE: In a small saucepan over low, combine oil, paprika, pepper flakes and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble, 5-7 minutes. Do not allow it to come to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in garlic. Let cool to room temp.
8. In a medium bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp salt and stir until salt dissolves. Slowly whisk in the cooled oil mixture.
Per Serving: 500 Calories; 42g Fat (73.2% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 47mg Cholesterol; 59mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 71mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 521mg Potassium; 215mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, Soups, on March 18th, 2021.

chili_guy_fieri

Dig out your spices in multiple types and heat.

Today I’m sharing a recipe from my neighbor, Scott. His wife, Josee, has been my salvation this last year, as she has gone shopping for me to various places, but of late, it’s been weekly trips to Costco, since I wasn’t willing to go there during the pandemic – except once. Periodically I make something that has a big quantity and I’ve shared it with their family of four. I’m happy to do it as a thank  you for all the various trips Josee has made for me.

Now that I’m past the 14-day hold after the 2nd vaccine, I’m “free.” Happy days. No fear of eating out, outside still, though. Don’t have to wear masks in small groups. As I write this I haven’t had a chance yet to hug my kids and grandkids, but I will!

So, Josee brought over a plastic bag of chili for me – Scott had made it. He’s the weekend “chef” – he loves to barbecue –  and I think he’s a very accomplished home cook. He and I have had a few conversations about cooking and food in various contexts. Anyway, I managed to get two meals out of the baggie of chili Josee brought me, and OH, was it ever good.

Scott said it’s Guy Fieri’s recipe, so I was able to go online and print that out easily enough. Know from the get-go that you need to read the ingredient list carefully – you might not have everything on that list. So plan ahead, and of course, always with stew-type or soup type foods, it’s better the next day. Scott made beef Bourguignon a week or so ago and it was outstanding.

Since I didn’t make this recipe myself, I can’t really give you much info, other than what Scott told me. He said follow the recipe and do your prep ahead so you don’t miss anything. If you’re sensitive to heat, reduce the amount of cayenne, perhaps use half-sharp or mild paprika. Do note, the title of the recipe is Dragon’s Breath, so that should give you a clue about the fiery heat. It was fine for me – I can tolerate medium-heat. This is a great recipe. I’d definitely make it myself and yes, I would use the finely chopped up chuck roast, just because it adds a lot of flavor. If you have the bone to go with it, I’d put it in the pot too to add even more flavor. If you look at the online recipe, Guy Fieri always serves this with French Fries. I’m not much of a French Fry person (although hot ones from McDonald’s put in front of me would be eaten!).

Scott added fewer beans (their family is trying to reduce carbs too), but there were some in there.

What’s GOOD: as you know, for me it’s all about the end result – the flavor. The texture. And this scored on all counts.

What’s NOT: only that it takes hours to simmer and you might have to purchase a few ingredients if you don’t already have them in your pantry.

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Dragons Breath Chili – Guy Fieri

Recipe By: from my neighbor, Scott, but from Guy Fieri, Food Network
Serving Size: 10

3 tablespoons bacon grease — or canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Anaheim chiles — roasted, peeled, seeded
3 poblano chiles — roasted, peeled, chopped
2 red bell peppers — diced
2 jalapeno chile pepper — minced
2 yellow onions — diced
1 head garlic — minced
1 pound chuck roast — boneless, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 pounds ground beef — coarse grind
1 pound Italian sausage — casings removed, or buy bulk
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper — (use less perhaps)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons hot paprika — (might use half hot and half regular)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup tomato paste
12 ounces beer — lager style
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
30 ounces canned kidney beans — with juice
30 ounces canned pinto beans — with juice
Saltine crackers — for garnish
1 bunch green onions — thinly sliced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
sour cream for garnish (optional: not in original recipe)

1. Add the bacon grease and butter to a large stockpot over high heat. Add the Anaheim chiles, poblano chiles, red bell peppers, jalapeno chiles and onions, and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Add the chuck and brown, about 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and sausage and brown, stirring gently, trying not to break up the ground beef too much. Cook until the meat is nicely browned and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain off fat. Add the chili powder, cayenne, coriander, cumin, granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika, salt and black pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add the tomato sauce and paste, and stir to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir in the beer and stock. Add the kidney and pinto beans; lower the heat and simmer, about 2 hours.
3. Serve the chili in bowls. May be served over Double-Fried French Fries. Garnish with crackers, green onions and Cheddar. Optional garnish: sour cream
Per Serving (sodium level is very high): 742 Calories; 40g Fat (48.4% calories from fat); 51g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 12g Dietary Fiber; 151mg Cholesterol; 1479mg Sodium; 11g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 227mg Calcium; 9mg Iron; 1643mg Potassium; 599mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, on September 19th, 2020.

curried_shepherds_pie_spoonful

Comfort food galore. Has the weather begun to cool for you? This casserole should be in your future.

Having a bit of ground beef and ground pork on hand, I needed to find a use for it, other than meatloaf or meatballs. When I spotted this old-old recipe I’ve had in my to-try file for a long time, I decided to lighten it up a bit by using riced cauliflower instead of potatoes. You don’t have to do that if you don’t care about the carbs. What you do need to know is that this casserole is spot-on fabulous. The original came from Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey, way back in 1984. But, I didn’t stick to the recipe exactly – mostly, but not verbatim.

curried_shepherds_pie_bakedFirst you cook some onions, then add garlic, then lastly a few spices (curry powder, obviously, plus ground cumin and ground coriander). Some tomatoes were added (I used fresh but you can use canned) and some chicken broth. That simmered for just a short time to blend the flavors.

Meanwhile, I cooked the cauliflower rice in an open pan so it wouldn’t get too wet and soggy. A tiny bit of butter was added, some salt and pepper, then I used my stick blender to mush it well – it didn’t need much of that – and I added in a little bit of frozen peas (I think you need them for color). The hot meat mixture went into a large ceramic pie plate (I made a half recipe), then the mashed cauliflower goes on top. I veered off just a bit by adding some grated Fontina cheese to the top. Oh-so-good.

You can bake the casserole right then, which will require nothing more than a bit of a broil to brown the top a little bit. I made it in the morning, chilled it, then baked it for about 45 minutes in my toaster oven, then turned on the broil element and browned the top with the cheese on it. The photo above, left, is the finished casserole.

It’s good to let it sit for at least 5 minutes, because it’s way too hot to eat. That was my dinner – since there were veggies on the top (the cauliflower rice, pureed) I had a full meal with my serving. But, I went back for seconds it was so darned good.

What’s GOOD: well, I love Shepherd’s Pie in any way, shape or form. This one, though, with the curry flavors, was exceptional. And how did the cauliflower go as far as a stand-in for potatoes? Well, it wasn’t JUST like potatoes, but it was close enough. It gave me the illusion anyway. As I write this I’ve had it twice, and there are at least 2 more servings in the casserole. I’ll probably freeze one portion. Remember, though, I halved the recipe. SO good.

What’s NOT: nothing whatsoever. Delicious on all levels.

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Curried Shepherd’s Pie

Recipe By: Adapted from Craig Claiborne & Pierre Franey, 1984
Serving Size: 7-8

1 tablespoon EVOO — or vegetable or corn oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon garlic — finely minced
1 tablespoon curry powder — or more if desired
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 pounds lean ground beef — or can use half beef, half ground pork or lamb
Freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste
1 cup tomatoes — canned imported tomatoes or fresh, chopped
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
CAULIFLOWER “POTATOES”
1 large cauliflower — or use an equivalent of cauliflower rice
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups frozen peas
1 1/2 cups Fontina cheese — grated, for topping

1. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onions and garlic over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted. Add the curry powder, cumin and coriander and cook briefly, stirring.
2. Add the meat and cook, stirring down with the side of a heavy kitchen spoon to break up the lumps. Add salt, pepper, the tomatoes, broth, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 20 to 30 minutes.
3. While the meat is cooking, cook the cauliflower in a bit of water or broth. When the mixture is cooked, test for doneness and make sure mixture is not too wet. If it is, continue cooking them until the mixture dries some. Use a stick blender to puree the cauliflower. Stir in frozen peas and cook very briefly.
6. Season with butter, salt and pepper.
7. Heat an eight-cup baking dish and pour the hot curried meat into it. Top with the hot mashed cauliflower. Smooth over the top. Sprinkle with cheese.
8. Broil until the top is golden brown. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then serve.
9. If making ahead, chill, then bring out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before baking at 350°F for about 45-60 minutes. Turn on the broiler at the end to brown the cheese. If you’re not sure it’s hot, use an instant read thermometer – it should reach about 150°F.
Per Serving: 477 Calories; 28g Fat (53.3% calories from fat); 44g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 148mg Cholesterol; 582mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 323mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 736mg Potassium; 498mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, on September 7th, 2020.

swedish_kalpudding

This is definitely a savory dish – no pudding as we know it – it’s made with ground beef, ground pork and a lot of cabbage. And then there’s a luscious little drizzle of a sauce that starts with jam or preserves.

Back when my DH (dear hubby Dave) was alive, I cooked a regular dinner every night, unless we went out, or unless we had sufficient leftovers. Now, 6+ years on, my routine is changed significantly. About once I week I fix a traditional dinner with a meat, a veg and maybe a salad. Most evenings now, I make a big green salad with lots of raw veggies in it, with just a speck of some protein (chicken, tuna or eggs). On one of the weekend evenings, I often will fix that more traditional dinner, though. And I think back, fondly, that my DH rarely asked I cook anything in particular  – he was happy with whatever I wanted to make, bless him! Occasionally he’d ask if maybe we could barbecue a steak, as he wanted them more frequently than I thought we should. So, obviously, it was left to the cook in the house as to “what shall we have for dinner?” Most frequently my weekend meal is some kind of salmon since it’s so good for us, and I love it. The rest of the time, well, I leave it to my cravings, which are a kind of whimsical thing. I looked it up:

Often, the craving is for foods high in sugar and fats, which can make maintaining a healthful diet difficult. Food cravings are caused by the regions of the brain that are responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward. An imbalance of hormones, such as leptin and serotonin, can also cause food cravings. – from a medical website

In this instance, I don’t think it was that I was craving sugar or fat, so what does that say? What I really wanted was a casserole of some kind. And casseroles usually have carbs. That may have been my desire, yet I try really hard to eat very little carbohydrates. I still do – fruit are, and even some veggies have carbs. It’s the obvious carbs I steer clear from, like potatoes, rice, pasta, beans, bread, corn and peas. Then there’s the sugar carbs – baked goods and desserts.

swedish_kalpudding_casseroleLast week I ordered a food delivery from Amazon/Whole Foods. In the order I’d asked for a pound of organic ground pork that I was going to stick in the freezer – probably to make a fall style dish, maybe meatballs in a month or so. I didn’t know what. So when they delivered the food, it was ground beef, not ground pork. Sigh. Then my neighbor made a trip to Trader Joe’s and she found ground pork there. Rather than freezing both chunks of meat, I decided to fix something with them. So you’ll find this recipe, and probably another one shortly with the second half of the meat.

Looking up recipes in my to-try repertoire, I found a bunch (many meatball oriented) including this dish. It was probably the cabbage that sucked me in. Meatloaf is something I do crave now and then – I’d like nothing better than to have my tried and true favorite one, Sweet and Sour Meatloaf. I wrote up that recipe during the first year I had this blog, 2007. But it contains quite a bit of sugar in the tomato sauced topping, and I try to steer away from those kinds of recipes too, as best I can. Although I could easily substitute monkfruit brown sugar in lieu of the regular stuff and see if I liked it. And use cauliflower mashed potatoes. Maybe I will do that sometime soon as well. Recently I watched a Rachel Ray show and was intrigued with her Sicilian Meatballs. They are calling my name too.

swedish_kalpudding_raw_meatMeanwhile, back to this dish . . . sorry, that was a whole lot of trivia and not getting to this recipe. The explanation about this dish (I had to look it up online) is that kal in Swedish means cabbage. Someone wrote that if you’d written it as Col-pudding, lots of English/Irish speakers would know cabbage (from colcannon, potatoes and cabbage). The pudding part is so misleading. We think pudding must be sweet, but to the Swedes, I guess it’s not. It has to do with minced meat, and a savory pudding means meatloaf.

swedish_kalpudding_ready2bakeFirst you cook the cabbage in butter and a bit of molasses. In Sweden I think they’d use Lyle’s golden syrup, but most westerners would use molasses. I have some Lyle’s, but didn’t want to open the jar, so I used the molasses on the shelf. It doesn’t need much. It helps the cabbage caramelize and gives it a lovely lightly sweetened taste. It took awhile, probably 15-20 minutes, to get the cabbage cooked down and slightly caramelized. The molasses gives it the dark brown color.

Meanwhile you mix up the meatloaf part with raw onion, salt, pepper, cream and about a third of the cooked cabbage (chopped up finely). No egg in this one. It also had some bread crumbs (I used panko because that’s all I keep on hand). I halved the recipe below and I think I’ll have 3-4 more servings of it, so I used a smaller casserole dish. The meat was spread into the bottom, then the caramelized cabbage is spread on top and leveled a bit. You pour on a little bit of broth on top. It’s been way too hot to turn on my main oven lately, so I baked it in my toaster oven (it has lots of functions, so I used bake at first) and then at the end I turned on the broil function to crisp up the cabbage a little bit. Hence the finished dish (up a few paragraphs) looks slightly burned, but it’s not. Trust me on that!

swedish_kapudding_sauceWhile the meat is baking, you mix up the sauce. Lingonberry jam is what’s called for, but I didn’t have any, but I did have blueberry preserves, so they had to suffice. It’s heated up with some butter, red wine vinegar, and then a moderate amount (to taste) of Worcestershire sauce. Someone else who made this recipe substituted raspberry jam for the lingonberries. I know I could buy some if I made a trip to Ikea. It’s about 15 miles away – too far, plus I’m not shopping in stores.

What’s GOOD: altogether delicious. It definitely satisfied my cravings for a casserole. The meat was very light and tasty, and the cabbage is certainly a great variation on meatloaf. Then the sauce – oh yes, that part is really, really good. Yes, I’d make it again. I think I might make it in a bread pan next time – it might make for easier slicing and serving.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of, really. Very easy to make. Very filling.

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Swedish Kalpudding (Meatloaf with Caramelized Cabbage)

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from The New York Times, Sam Sifton, March 2017
Serving Size: 6

MEATLOAF:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 head cabbage — green, approximately 3 pounds, cored and shredded
3 tablespoons Molasses
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper — to taste
3/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
1 small yellow onion — peeled and chopped
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons bread crumbs
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth — beef or vegetable stock
FOR THE SAUCE:
1/3 cup lingonberry preserves — or blueberry
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter — optional
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce — or to taste

1. Heat oven to 350. Put a large pan over medium-high heat, and add the butter. When it starts to foam, add the cabbage and molasses, lower the heat to medium and sprinkle with salt. Cook slowly, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated and the cabbage is caramelized, approximately 20-25 minutes.
2. While the cabbage is cooking, lightly mix the meats in a large bowl, then add the onion, cream, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs, and mix again to combine.
3. When the cabbage is done, remove about 1/3 of it to a cutting board and chop more finely. Add it to the meat mixture, and mix to combine. Transfer the meat mixture to baking pan or ceramic casserole dish, spreading it out to cover the whole surface evenly. Spread remaining cabbage over the meat, then pour the stock or water over the top and place in the oven, on a sheet tray, to cook for approximately 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cabbage is very, very caramelized, almost dry and crunchy at the edges. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.
4. While the meat and cabbage cooks, make the sauce. Heat lingonberry or blueberry preserves, vinegar and butter in a small pot set over medium heat, then add Worcestershire sauce to taste. Serve alongside the Kalpudding.
Per Serving: 464 Calories; 31g Fat (60.2% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 132mg Cholesterol; 145mg Sodium; 16g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 89mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 627mg Potassium; 256mg Phosphorus.

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