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Sara

Sara and me

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Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called 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. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

Alan Hlad has written quite a novel. From true life. The Long Flight Home. It tells the story based on family history, of the homing pigeons that were used in Britain during WWII that flew back and forth across the English Channel into German-occupied France. It’s a heartwarming story. Heart-wrenching sometimes. War is an awful thing no matter which side you’re on when it comes to how it affects everyday people. You’ll learn a lot about pigeons, but also about love. Great read.

Riveted to Katie Munnick’s novel The Heart Beats in Secret. It begins in Scotland in 1940. A woman, a single mother. A journey across the sea. Then her daughter’s story, and finally the granddaughter’s story, when she inherits her grandmother’s old cottage back in Scotland. Plenty of mother-daughter dysfunction. But it comes right in the end.

Sarah Vallance has written a book about her devastating brain injury. Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain. What a story. What a saga of her recovery. And how she did it. An open wide sharing of her angst, her anger, her journey. Well worth reading. If you have anyone who has suffered a brain injury, it would be wise reading.

Just love all of Amy Harmon’s books. This one is no exception. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel. A pioneer story of a young woman made a widow on the trail to the west. 1850s. As it was in life, tragedies occur. But there is caring and love too. Loved it.

Read Her Mother’s Hope: Marta’s Legacy Series Book 1 (A Gripping Historical Christian Fiction Family Saga from the 1900s to the 1950s) (Marta’s Legacy) by Francine Rivers. After leaving her childhood home of Switzerland, young Marta Schneider dreams of one day owning a boardinghouse, until marriage and motherhood change her ambitions. Determined to give her family a better life, she vows to raise strong children. But her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, creating repercussions that will echo for generations.

Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast.  The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends).

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II about a weary Italian soldier.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars.

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.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with her distant heritage.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. It’s about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt.  You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. 

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania.

One of my book clubs had us read Louise Penny’s novel, A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel). The book takes place at a lovely inn in Canada and Chief Inspector Gamache (he is quite a character – along with his wife – are vacationing there) when a murder occurs.

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. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

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, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation.

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher mystery. From amazon: Across the country, women are being murdered, victims of a disciplined and clever killer who leaves no trace evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to an apparent motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. Until Jack Reacher gets in the middle of it. A page turner, as are all of the Jack Reacher stories.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. A sweet book, true story, of the author and her friend, during one summer in the midst of their college years, going by train to NYC and ultimately getting a job of Tiffany’s.  Cute read.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who  lacks self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. Sweet story.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.  From Amazon’s description: August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together. Have a tissue handy at the end. It’s such a charming, sweet story. You’ll fall in love with the young boys, and fall in love with them again 10 years later.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes.

Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3) by Francine Rivers.

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

Answer As a Man

Celeste Ng Little Fires Everywhere.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.

C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel).

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively.

 

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.

Scroll down to the bottom to view my Blogroll

Posted in Beef, on June 27th, 2020.

smoked_brisket_chili

It’s not every day you have some left over smoked beef brisket. If you do, however, THIS is a recipe for you!

Several weeks ago I ventured “out” and drove to the Pasadena area where my son and his family live. I stayed outside in their back yard and enjoyed a lovely afternoon with them, and had a sumptuous dinner. Powell has a big honkin’ barbecue/smoker and he’d purchased THE largest brisket I’ve ever seen in my life. He goes to a meat market near where they live, called Harmony Farms. They know him by first name now. Anyway, what to do with left over beef brisket that’s been smoked? Karen had made this chili once before (a year ago maybe) and I’d exclaimed over the wonderful flavors of the chili. So when I went home that evening she gave me a nice container of smoked brisket to use however I wanted, but what I wanted was this chili.

The recipe called for 3 cups of leftover brisket. This brisket was not slathered with anything wet – it had a dry rub on it and had been smoked for 12 hours or so, and it had deep, smoky flavor. Powell uses something called Cue-Glue from Savory Spice. It’s something that helps dry rub stick to the meat. The label calls it “the pro’s secret weapon.”

When I made the chili, I adapted the recipe, just slightly. I had more brisket, and didn’t have the smaller half-cans of kidney beans or black beans, so I used one can total and some frozen corn. I just eye-balled it. Since the brisket had some fairly warm (spicy) rub on it, I tamed down the seasonings a little bit. Play with it if you make this. The recipe came from a website called vindulge. There are oodles of grilled and smoked meat recipes on that website.

What “makes” this recipe is, obviously, the brisket itself and it’s deep, smoky flavors. You start off with 1-inch chunks of the already smoked brisket, and as it cooks (simmers) the beef does break down into smaller pieces. And becomes super tender. There’s a little bit of coffee (I made a shot of espresso) in this, some chipotle in adobo sauce (be careful, that stuff is hot) and smoked paprika and beer.

When I made this a few weeks ago, it was still cool spring weather here, so I ate some of it and froze some of it – maybe for the fall once summer winds down.

Tuck this recipe into your hat for the fall, unless you’re wanting to make a smoked brisket in the summer. Just don’t use a wet-slathered red sauced type brisket. It would lean this chili over into a barbecue sauce soup, which isn’t what you want here. A tip of my hat to my daughter in law, Karen, for finding this recipe, and for sharing the smoked brisket with me so I could make it myself.

What’s GOOD: oh my, so delicious. I just love this recipe. But then, I do love chili. Not usually ones with tons of beans in it, however. I was prudent with how many beans I added. The combo of flavors is over the top wonderful. I don’t cook smoked meat, so if I make this again, it’ll need to be from another part of my son’s smoked meats. He loves to smoke meat, though, so that’s probably not a problem! Make the day ahead if you have time – all soups get better with an overnight chill.

What’s NOT: maybe acquiring the smoked brisket? Otherwise, nothing at all. Plan ahead a few hours.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Smoked Beef Brisket Chili

Recipe By: Adapted from Vindulge website
Serving Size: 8

3 slices thick-sliced bacon — diced
1 large onion — about 2 cups, chopped
1 whole red bell pepper — chopped
3 cloves garlic — finely diced
4 cups smoked beef brisket — cooked, cut up into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
12 ounces beer — or beef broth
1/4 cup coffee or espresso
15 ounces diced tomatoes — including juice
15 ounces tomato sauce — or tomato paste plus water
15 ounces canned black beans — drained and rinsed
15 ounces canned kidney beans — drained and rinsed
7 ounces canned corn — drained and rinsed
4 ounces canned diced green chiles

Note: The original recipe used half the amount of beans and corn. I didn’t have a use for leftover canned beans or corn, so I added the whole cans into the mixture. The original recipe also used more chili powder. Use your own judgment about how much to add. Be careful adding the chipotle peppers in adobo – they can be very hot. You can always add more, but you can’t take them out once they’re in.
1. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté bacon until crispy. Remove bacon to paper towels using a slotted spoon and reserve for later. If there is excess bacon grease remove it, otherwise cook the onions in it.
2. Add onions and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add bell pepper and garlic; cook 1 additional minute to soften.
3. Add the leftover cubed brisket and all dry seasonings. Let cook 1 minute stirring often.
4. Add beer (or broth) and allow it to deglaze the pan and cook off the alcohol (about 1-2 minutes). Then add coffee, tomatoes, beans, corn, green chiles, and the reserved bacon.
5. Bring to a low simmer, cover, and cook for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to two hours to develop the flavors.If the stew starts to get too thick, you can add water 1/2 cup at a time to thin it out.
6. Serve with a drizzle of sour cream and chopped cilantro. Optional: minced red onion, green onion, tortilla chips (crushed) or Fritos.
Per Serving: 512 Calories; 26g Fat (59.1% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 124mg Cholesterol; 1817mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 79mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 774mg Potassium; 189mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, on June 11th, 2020.

meatballs_french_onion_soup_style

More and more, I see bloggers who show food-sloppy pictures. So here’s mine!

As I write this, looking at that picture, I’m laughing. What a messy casserole! I could have tried to clean it up before taking the picture, but oh well. It is what it is. I’m also laughing at myself – – – when I make something that is wildly delicious, the next day my fingers are just itching to get to my keyboard to start writing up a post. This is one of those kind of posts. After checking my email and doing my online jigsaw puzzle to wake up my brain, I was right into it, correcting the recipe with the changes I made, preparing the photos and beginning to write the story.

My neighbor, who is still doing a lot of my grocery shopping for me, bought sweet onions (instead of regular yellow ones). Afterwards, I gave her a little lesson in onions (she’s not much of a cook – she COOKS, but not because she likes to – because she has to feed her family of 4). She had never heard of sweet onions – so I gave her a quick lesson about them. I should give her a link to the blog post I did some years ago after my friends Tom and Joan gifted me with a passel of Texas Noonday sweet onions. And, last week she went to Costco (for herself, but also for me) and I had her buy a 3-pack of the ground beef. I froze two, and left one the frig. So, here I was with ground beef and sweet onions (you know, of course, that sweet onions don’t last as long in your pantry as regular onions – they have more moisture/water in them, so they tend to spoil much sooner). I searched my recipe database, and up popped this recipe that I hadn’t tried yet.

meatballs_fr_onion_style_onions_sauteeingAnd what a winner of a recipe it is. I’ll be making this again. I think next time I’ll try it with ground turkey, just to make it a bit healthier. First you have to slice 2 big sweet onions (cut in half first, then sliced) and they sweat away with some EVOO until they’ve caramelized. That takes awhile – especially with the sweet onions. When they get to the end of caramelizing you add in a little solution of beef broth and red wine and sweat that off too.

meatballs_fr_onion_style_sauteeingThen you make the meatballs. First you mix some of the usual kinds of ingredients. A cube of mozzarella cheese is put into the center of each meatball. Not a very big piece as lots of the cheese oozes out during cooking. Then you brown the meatballs.

Meanwhile, the onions are put into bottom of a casserole dish (or you can make this in a frying pan that’s suitable for going into the oven, that’ll save one more dish from dishwashing). The meatballs go in on top. Then you make a cornstarch-thickened mixture with broth and more red wine and that cooks in the residual fat left in the frying pan. Once thickened, that’s poured over the top of the meatballs.

meatballs_fr_onion_style_baking_cheeseInto the oven they go for about 15-20 minutes, then you take them out and add the cheese on top and back into the oven they go for another 15-20 minutes, and they’re done.

There’s a picture of the casserole (the second one I made that I gave to my neighbor) ready for the second baking with the cheese on top.

Once the casserole is done, I suggest you take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 4-5 minutes. It’s really hot, and that cheese will, for sure, burn the roof of your mouth. meatballs_fr_onion_style_plated

I probably should have had just three meatballs. I splurged and had four. And oh, were they ever good. There really isn’t “soup” as you might think – there are delicious red-winey-onions on the bottom, then the meatballs, crispy with the golden brown cheese. This could be served on a bed of rice, cauliflower rice (buttered), some mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower too, or some noodles? Or a bed of buttered garlic spinach.

What’s GOOD: everything about this was delicious. The onions have great flavor, especially with the little bit of red wine added, then the sauce too, which has broth and red wine in it. The beef was tasty, especially if you had a bit of cheese and onion with every bite. I almost licked the bowl.

What’s NOT: well, this does take a bit of time to make. If you have some extra hands in the kitchen to do the meatballs, that would be a great help. It probably took about an hour and 20 minutes or so to do it all, altogether, including the 30 minute baking time. The onions take a long time – you could easily do those ahead, as that would save a lot of time.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Meatballs French Onion Soup au Gratin Style

Recipe By: Tweaked slightly from Cupcakes and Kale Chips blog
Serving Size: 8

ONIONS:
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 large sweet onions — halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup red wine
MEATBALLS:
1 3/4 pounds ground beef — or could use ground turkey
1/4 cup bread crumbs — or panko, or gluten free, if needed, or oatmeal
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
8 ounces mozzarella cheese — about 2 ounces of it cut into half-inch cubes, the remainder shredded for the topping
1/2 tablespoon EVOO
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish — optional
SAUCE:
1 3/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste (may not be needed)

1. ONIONS: the onions: Heat oil in a skillet over medium, add onions, salt & pepper, cook 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently or until caramelized. If using sweet onions it will take 30-40 minutes. Add thyme, sauté for minute or two, then add the wine and beef broth. Reduce until very little liquid remains. Pour into a casserole dish large enough to hold all of the meatballs. Set aside.
2. MEATBALLS: Combine all ingredients except the cheese in a large bowl, and gently combine with your hands. Divide the meat mixture into 16-18 equal pieces. Take one piece of the meat mixture and flatten slightly into a patty. Place one cube of cheese in the center of the patty and wrap the meatball around the cheese, sealing as best you can. Roll the meatball beween your two palms to make it more round. Repeat with the remaining meat and cheese cubes.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F.
4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides. Place meatballs in casserole on top of the onions.
5. SAUCE: Whisk together the sauce ingredients and pour into the skillet you used for the meatballs (that has some residual fat in it). Heat mixture, stirring frequently, until thickened. Taste for seasonings – it may not need any additional. Pour over the meatballs. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and sprinkle the shredded cheese over the meatballs and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. The cheese may be golden brown in places (perfect). If not, turn on broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired. Serve over rice, cauliflower rice, noodles, mashed potatoes, or sauteed spinach with butter.

Posted in Beef, on June 1st, 2020.

beer_braised_veal_bratwurst_onions

Ever get a hankering for bratwurst?

As I write this, we’re still in the sheltering-in-place routine. Am I tired of it? Heck, yes. But I’m not willing to risk going out yet. My doctor has told me that older folks (like me) should stay home until there is a vaccine. Oh my. Is that ever a depressing thought. That’s more than 6 months away. I can’t wrap my head around that possibility. So I’m staying at home and trying not to think more than 1-2 days ahead.

It was a few weeks ago that I was watching Joanne Weir’s Plate and Places (PBS). In that episode she visited Germany, chugged some lager with the locals, and then came home to make veal brats and her version of a cabbage dish to go with it. Since they kind-a go together I’m giving you both recipes in the one post.

My problem was getting the brats. Since I’m not going out, I had to rely on my neighbor to go for me, and there are only a couple of stores locally that carry good veal brats (other than the bulk-made grocery store variety that I don’t think are very authentic). My neighbor, Josee, was kind enough to say she’d go to one particular independent market for me. I had her get the brats and a bunch of Italian sausage (the latter vacuum sealed in one-sausage-per-pkg that’s in the freezer). Fortunately I had cabbage and Brussels sprouts too, so I was happy to be able to prepare this dish.

What I didn’t have was the German amber beer, but I did have ordinary beer (I don’t drink beer, but my son-in-law brought some here last fall when they visited). There was one bottle left, and it was just enough.

The gist of this recipe is that once you brown the sausages in a spice toasted pan, they are braised in beer until cooked through. Then onions are added (see them perched on top of the sausage in the photo) and then served with the mustard sauce (which I forgot to photograph).

cabbage_brussels_pan_braisingThe cabbage dish was so intriguing to me because it combined regular cabbage and Brussels sprouts. But then, I love Brussels sprouts just about any old which way. But to combine them with cabbage, then flavor them with celery seeds, caraway, juniper berries and some Riesling wine? Oh yes! And butter. And the wine I didn’t use in the cabbage I had as an aperitif for several evenings in a row. I went into the wine cellar – which I knew would contain next to nothing in the Riesling department (because my DH didn’t like sweet wine), but I did find about 3 bottles. Yippee, I could make this dish!

There’s a photo at left of it cooking in the pan. As it cooked down, it became less vibrant looking, sorry to say, but it was delicious nevertheless.

What’s GOOD: everything was good. Loved having some veal brats, and I ate this for 3 days in a row. Loved the cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Actually, I liked them better on day two than the night I served them. I suppose the flavors married a bit. Which made the leftovers so much more delicious. Do make the mustard sauce too. A bit of work, but you can do it while the other stuff is cooking away.

What’s NOT: nothing really – pretty easy dishes to make if you have all the ingredients.

BEER BRAISED SAUSAGES: printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

CABBAGE and BRUSSELS SPROUTS: printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Beer Braised Sausages with Mustard Sauce

Recipe By: Joanne Weir, her TV program “Plates and Places”
Serving Size: 4

1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon dill seed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds bratwurst — uncooked veal type, or other sausages– hot or sweet Italian
2 large yellow onions — thinly sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Kosher salt to taste
2 cups beer — amber (German)
HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE:
1/2 cup stone ground mustard
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons beer
1 Pinch cayenne
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice — or more

NOTE: If possible use German beer.
1. Place the mustard seeds, caraway seeds and dill seeds in a mortar and crush them gently with a pestle.
2. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the sausages, turning occasionally, until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool slightly. Using a pin, prick the sausages several times.
3. Over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and add the spices, onions, brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and translucent and begin to take on some golden brown color, about 20 to 30 minutes. Place the bratwurst on top of the onions and pour the beer over the bratwurst. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered, until the bratwurst are completely cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes.
4. In the meantime, place all of the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
5. With tongs, remove the bratwurst from the pan and place on a platter. Cover with foil to keep warm. Increase the heat to high and cook until the onions are almost dry, 3 to 4 minutes. Place the onions on top of the bratwurst and serve with the Stoneground Honey Mustard Sauce.

– – –

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Braised Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts Slaw

Recipe By: Joanne Weir, Plates and Places TV show
Serving Size: 4

1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds — crushed
6 juniper berries — crushed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 pound Brussels sprouts — halved
1 1/2 cups Riesling wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 head cabbage — red or green, 1-inch dice

1. Place the celery seeds and the caraway seeds in a mortar and with a pestle, gently grind the seeds.
2. Warm the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring and shaking the pan occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are golden on the cut side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the Riesling and continue to cook until the Brussels sprouts are almost cooked and the Riesling has evaporated, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside in a large bowl.
3. Melt the butter in the frying pan over medium high heat. Add the cabbage, celery, caraway, and junipers berries and cook just until the cabbage begins to wilt, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup Riesling and cook until the Riesling has evaporated, about 4 minutes.
4. Over medium high heat, add the Brussels sprouts to the cabbage and toss gently together. Cook until hot, 2 minutes.
Per Serving: (not accurate as it assumes you’re drinking the wine, not simmering it off in the pan) 265 Calories; 10g Fat (47.0% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 15mg Cholesterol; 33mg Sodium; 9g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 61mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 447mg Potassium; 77mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, Miscellaneous, Miscellaneous sides, on January 2nd, 2020.

spicy_beef_tenderloin_cranberry_mango_chutney

What is there not to like about a whole beef tenderloin?

For Christmas Day I offered to buy a whole beef tenderloin for the family celebration. Sara said “yes, please.” So off I went to Costco to buy an already-trimmed (of extra fat and silverskin) tenderloin. I cut it in half (easier handling in the oven), patted well with the spice combo (not herbs, but spices, which were a type of dry rub) then it was tightly tied with kitchen twine. They went into plastic bags (or wrap well in plastic wrap so it doesn’t leak) and I let them marinate in the refrigerator for almost 3 days. The recipe, from a class with Phillis Carey, calls for marinating the dry rubbed tenderloin for 4 days.

My cousin Gary and I drove to Sara’s and John’s (in Poway, CA) on Christmas Day and the meat went into the frig until about an hour before we wanted to begin cooking them.

spicy_beef_tenderloin_ready_for_ovenAfter the dry marinating time, the two pieces were seared on all sides with EVOO, then placed on a rimmed baking sheet and into a 400°F oven. The recipe said 20 minutes, but ours took about another 3-4, I think, to reach 130°F. Actually both reached about 133°F when we got them out of the oven. In case you’ve never done one of these, let me just warn: the last 3-8 minutes are crucial – monitor the internal temp frequently. The internal temp rises quickly once the meat reaches about 120°. Be forewarned. The last thing you want is an overcooked tenderloin. Some in our group wanted more medium and we got that perfectly with the smaller piece.

A few days ahead I’d made the spicy_beef_tenderloin_restingchutney, a kind of cooked relish of fresh cranberries, orange juice, sugar, dried mango chopped up and a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger.

So, there’s a photo of the finished pieces. Note one is larger – it went in the oven for about 5 minutes before we added the 2nd, smaller piece. So they both came out of the oven at the same time.

The meat was lightly tented with foil for 15 minutes, then carved in thin slices (recommended) and served. The recipe says to roast to 135°. I’m hesitant to go that high, so I took them out early. They continue to cook during the resting time anyway.

JUST WATCH THE TEMP CAREFULLY. When you pay $114 (that’s what this one was) for a hunk of good beef, you certainly don’t want to ruin it by overcooking. Just so you know, if you overcook beef, it gets tough.

What’s GOOD: loved the seasonings –  the beef was “hot” because of the quantity of pepper. If you’re sensitive to it, reduce the pepper from the mixture below. Loved the spices on it. AND loved the chutney. It’s perfect with a big hunk of beef. I had two small pieces, and after feeding 12, there was nothing but a small handful of beef tidbits left over. I think everyone went back for seconds, just about.

What’s NOT: if you’re sensitive to pepper, take it out of the recipe altogether, and if you are turned off by spices patted onto meat, reduce the quantity of the spices. Obviously, if cost is a factor, pass on this one as it’s an expensive entrée.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Spicy Beef Tenderloin with Cranberry Ginger Mango Chutney

Recipe By: Cooking Class with Phillis Carey, Nov. 2019
Serving Size: 12

2 tablespoons black peppercorns — scant (or a mix of black and green peppercorns)
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar — packed
2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 garlic cloves — coarsely crushed into slivers
5 pounds beef tenderloin — tied as a roast
2 tablespoons vegetable oil — divided or EVOO
CRANBERRY MANGO CHUTNEY:
12 ounces fresh cranberries — about 3 cups
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup dried mango — chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger — minced

1. Grind peppercorns in an electric spice grinder (or clean coffee grinder) to a medium grind. In a small bowl, combine pepper, brown sugar, salt, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, coriander, cardamom, and cloves; whisk to combine. Rub meat sparingly with crushed garlic slivers, then rub all over with spice mixture.
2. Cut tenderloin crosswise in half. Wrap each half very tightly with several layers of plastic wrap (so that it looks swaddled), put in a rimmed pan, and refrigerate 4 days.
3. Preheat oven to 400°. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large frying pan (not nonstick) over high heat. Add 1 piece of meat and sear until well browned on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking pan and repeat with remaining oil and beef. Transfer baking pan to oven and cook meat until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 130°, 20 to 30 minutes. (Halves may not cook at the same rate; after meat has been in the oven 20 minutes, begin taking temperature of both pieces of meat every 1-2 minutes.) Transfer to a carving board, tent with foil, and let rest 15 minutes. Remove kitchen twine.
4. Cut meat into very thin slices (less than 1/4 in., if possible) and serve warm or at room temperature, with crusty rolls and chutney.
Per Serving (you won’t eat all of the chutney): 747 Calories; 46g Fat (56.0% calories from fat); 35g Protein; 47g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 134mg Cholesterol; 1350mg Sodium.

Posted in Beef, on October 21st, 2019.

lazy_sunday_pot_roast

Remember? Brown food doesn’t look so great in a picture! But oh, this one’s worth the effort, and it doesn’t take much to make this pot roast dinner.

Even though I eat a somewhat restricted set of foods, there are lots of things I can make and enjoy. Last night I had a group of friends over for dinner and made this pot roast, a tabouli salad made with millet, Brussels sprouts with bacon, golden raisins and pomegranate seeds, a type of dip – called a hummus because of its texture – but made with zucchini, and then I made a strawberry black pepper refrigerator cake. The only thing I made that wasn’t on my diet was the dessert. But I had some anyway. Well, I suppose I’m not to have pot roast, either (too much fat) but I did.

I still subscribe to a bunch of blogs, and truly, as I scan through them I can often whiz right past because they have foods that I’m not supposed to eat on this anti-lectin, Gundry diet. I’m a sucker, though, for an interesting story, and this one was just so special. Written by John “Doc” Willoughby, I was hooked from the first words. If you’re interested, click HERE, to the full story. In a nutshell, Doc knew from when he was a child, that he loved his Grandmother’s pot roast, but he never knew much about what was in it. After his grandmother passed away, Doc inherited her collection of cookbooks and recipes. And then he found the old 3×5 card with the recipe on it. Since then, he’s made this pot roast countless times, and often for company, because he says it’s pretty foolproof, AND it’s easy.

The recipe, on the surface, looks kind of mundane. But oh, it’s not. He explains that he’s made it without the caraway seeds, and without the marjoram, and he says the finished product doesn’t measure up. So, those herbs/spices are essential to the result. First, buy a 4-pound chuck eye roast. Pat it dry with paper towels, salt and pepper it, then sear it in oil in a big, lidded Dutch oven type pan. Remove the meat, then sauté 2 onions, halved and sliced, then you add in the other ingredients – broth, brown sugar, the caraway seeds and marjoram (I used dried), some bay leaves, and some apple cider vinegar. The roast is nestled in there, and more broth is added if needed, to bring the liquid level up halfway on the roast (mine needed about another 3/4 cup of water). Into a 300°F oven it went (covered) and baked for 3 hours. I removed it and turned the roast twice. Then you add 3 Granny Smith (or similar type) apples, cored and peeled, then sliced and cut in 8ths, cover and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the apples kind of puff up. A few of them fell apart in my pot, and some hardly seemed done, but they were.

The only kind-of-sort-of hard part was getting that 4-lb. roast out of the pot – it was hot and heavy and it fell apart. But oh well. It’s supposed to rest for 10-15 minutes before you serve it, so I put it out on the platter and covered it with foil while I wrestled with the good stuff left in the pot – the apples, onions and flavorful broth. It took a bit of doing – and my friend Judy helped me some – to remove some of the fat. I have a fat separator which helped, but the onions kept clogging up the sieve part. But we managed. The apples and onions went out onto the platter (see photo) and some of the broth swam all over the platter as well. The strained, somewhat de-fatted broth went into a pitcher to pass at the table.

What’s interesting is that none of us – me included – could taste the caraway or the marjoram. That was kind of astounding to me – I pride myself on being able to detect flavors. Couldn’t find it at all in this dish. With the list of ingredients, I’d guess this recipe has German origins (the caraway, apples and apple cider vinegar are the clues), but the marjoram makes me think France. But no matter, this dish comes together well. There’s a lot of liquid left over, so I’ll probably make some kind of soup with it – maybe with some of the left over pot roast cut into little cubes (if I can, as the meat is meltingly tender).

What’s GOOD: the flavor – oh my yes – so tasty. You can detect the sweet (brown sugar) and the apples impact a delectable flavor to the overall dish. It was perfectly tender, and I liked having a dish that offered the apples to serve alongside, with the very tender onions too. It was easy. The article actually suggested making it the day before up to the apple-adding step, then reheating it and baking for 15-20 minutes. I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea – so I made it the day of. Will I make this again? Absolutely, although probably not for myself. Only for company, I’d say. I’m sure you could make a smaller one – say a 2 1/2 pound roast, however.

What’s NOT: nothing really, except that you need to plan ahead several hours. But that’s not news to anyone who’s made a pot roast before. There were no complaints from anyone.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Lazy Sunday Pot Roast

Recipe By: John “Doc” Willoughby, from his grandmother Schwyhart
Serving Size: 8

4 pounds boneless beef chuck eye roast Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions — halved and thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh marjoram — or 2 tablespoons dried
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups low sodium beef broth — or chicken stock (2 to 2 1/2)
3 Granny Smith apples — or other tart apples such as Cortlands or Baldwins, quartered, cored, and peeled

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Dry the roast well with paper towels, sprinkle it very generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large, ovenproof pot over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the roast and brown well on all sides—this should take at least 10 or 12 minutes—then remove to a platter and set aside.
3. Add the onions to the pot and saute, stirring frequently, until translucent, 7 to 9 minutes. Put the meat back in the pot, add the bay leaves, caraway seeds, brown sugar, marjoram, vinegar, and enough stock so that the liquid comes just halfway up the sides of the meat. Bring just to a simmer then cover, put in the preheated oven, and cook for 2-1/2 hours, turning over once or twice during this time.
4. Add the apples to the pot and continue to cook until the apples are soft and puffed up and the meat is very tender, about 15 minutes. To check the meat for doneness: Plunge a fork straight down into the meat and try to pull the fork out; if the fork slides out easily, the meat is done; if the meat hangs on to the fork, give it more time.
5. Remove meat, cover it loosely with foil, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Skim the fat from the braising liquid and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut the meat into thick slices and serve, accompanied by the apples, onions and the braising liquid. Strain some of the broth, if possible, and pass it at the table.
Per Serving: 490 Calories; 20g Fat (35.7% calories from fat); 65g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 184mg Cholesterol; 199mg Sodium.

Posted in Beef, on September 24th, 2018.

tomato_glazed_meatloaf

These probably should be called meatloaf balls – they’re so perfect for individual servings – make them as small or large as you’d like. Then brush with a tomato glaze.

As I mentioned in my last post, I offered to take dinner to 3 people (one couple and a single) a few weeks ago, and after seeing what other people were taking to the couple, I suggested meatloaf. They said “YES.” Normally I’d make mashed potatoes, but I’d noticed that 2 other meal-helpers had taken them mashed potatoes, so I suggested rice or pasta. RICE was the answer. My single friend Melida doesn’t care what I bring her – she’ll eat anything I make, God bless her!

meatloaf_individual_before_glazingThis recipe for meatloaf contains some different ingredients (which was why it interested me). Dijon mustard for one, and smoked paprika, for another.  Some meatloaf recipes use Worcestershire, but in this one there’s a bit more than usual. The original recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, and Deb talked about her aversion to meatloaf, so she invented these meatballs that stand in for meatloaf. Loved the idea. I’ve made that type before. One of the best parts about making these large rounds is that they cook faster than a single, big loaf type meatloaf – these in 25 minutes or no more than 30.

raw_meatloaf_after_glazingNow Deb made hers to nestle on the top of a mound of browned butter mashed potatoes. I didn’t go that route, but there was no difference in the meatloaf part of the recipe in any case. You mix up ground beef and ground pork (Deb used all beef) along with a bunch of finely diced and cooked onion, carrot, celery and garlic. She used bread in hers, but since I’m trying to not eat carbs, I upped the number of eggs, and it worked just fine. Also in the meatloaf is a jot of tomato paste, salt, pepper and chopped parsley.

meatloaf_balls_bakedMeanwhile, you make your own topping. I really, really liked the tomato glaze – it’s a type of sweet/sour sauce that’s not all that sweet (used only 2 teaspoons of honey for about 2/3 cup of sauce). You combine tomato paste, cider vinegar, the honey, more Worcestershire, Dijon and salt and bring it to a simmer. Bingo. Done. As you can see from the photos, first I formed the meatballs (I had 2 pans of them since I increased the quantity some), then spread them with the glaze. Into a 350°F oven they went and I began testing the internal temp at about 20 minutes. You want an internal temp of 160°F.

Next time I make these I’m going to double the sauce and will glaze the meatballs a 2nd time during the baking. As you can see from the finished photo, some of the sauce kind of slides off. It might be better also, to flatten the tops of the meatballs – that way the sauce would stay put. So I have changed the recipe below to achieve those things. Deb actually makes a kind of groove in the middle of her meatballs (which maybe accomplished the same thing as flattening the top) so the glaze stayed put.

Since I made extra, I have 4 meatballs in my freezer now and I put a dollop of extra sauce in some plastic wrap and put that on top of the frozen meatball so it’ll be available to glaze mid-way when I bake them next. To freeze them, I did brush the glaze on them, put them on a plastic-wrap lined baking sheet, put them in the freezer that way, then once they were frozen I put the little package of extra sauce on top, then wrapped each meatball individually in plastic wrap and then into a Ziploc freezer bag. When I defrost I will remove the sauce package before allowing them to defrost – so the plastic wrap doesn’t pick up the sauce that’s ON the meatball already.

What’s GOOD: Altogether delicious meatloaf/meatball – loved the hint of smoked paprika in this, and although you couldn’t taste the Worcestershire or Dijon, you know there is something else interesting in them to give them extra-good flavor. Even without adding bread or some other carb (oatmeal) this meatloaf is very light in texture. This recipe is a winner and I’ll be making these again and again.

What’s NOT: nothing other than the prep work, but there isn’t that much to do.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Tomato Glazed Meatballs

Recipe By: Adapted from a recipe on Smitten Kitchen
Serving Size: 10

GLAZE:
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil — or olive oil, or avocado oil
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 teaspoons honey
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
MEAT:
1 tablespoon olive oil — or avocado oil
1/2 medium onion — minced
1 medium celery stalk — minced
1 medium carrot — minced
2 cloves garlic — smashed and minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 pounds ground beef — ground chuck preferably
1 pound ground pork — lean
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Italian parsley — finely chopped
1/3 cup milk

1. Make the glaze: Combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan, and simmer, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes until and glaze is satiny smooth. Remove about 1/3 of the sauce to glaze the meatloaf balls when they come out of the oven. Use the larger portion to glaze before and during baking. Set aside.
2. Prepare the meatballs: Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat 2 9×13-inch baking dishes with nonstick spray or oil.
3. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot to a large skillet over medium heat, coated with oil. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool before adding to the meat mixture.
4. In a large bowl combine the eggs, tomato paste, Dijon, smoked paprika, Worcestershire, salt and milk. Mix this thoroughly with a whisk (it will distribute better when you add the meat), then add the cooled vegetables and the meat. Stir the ingredients together with a fork or your hands until evenly blended.
5. Form the meatloaf mixture into about 10 meatballs. Arrange in baking pan. Gently flatten the top of each meatball (so the sauce won’t drain off). Drizzle or brush each meatball with about 2 teaspoons or so of the tomato glaze you made earlier, and bake until cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a cooked meatball will register 160° to 165°F). Pause half way through and glaze the top of the meatballs again with the sauce.
6. Brush the reserved tomato glaze on top of each meatball and serve with more chopped parsley if desired.
Per Serving: 654 Calories; 53g Fat (73.5% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 234mg Cholesterol; 649mg Sodium.

Posted in Beef, Grilling, on September 4th, 2018.

greek_marinated_skirt_steak

Have you joined the fans clamoring for skirt steak? It’s relatively inexpensive, as steak goes, but it does require careful grilling and it needs to be sliced thin as it’s a more-chewy cut of meat.

My favorite steak is ribeye. That’s no secret if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time. I haven’t had a steak for awhile – once in a blue moon I do make one for myself – and it’s very satisfying, I must admit. When my DH was alive, we’d have a steak every 2-4 weeks, for sure. Dave love-loved them. And he had perfected the cooking of them on the outdoor grill. My poor barbecue doesn’t get much of a workout with just me these days. We’ve had a really hot and muggy summer here in SoCal. Hotter earlier than usual, and more muggy than usual. So I don’t tend to go outdoors in the early evening as it’s just too uncomfortable. So this recipe would fit perfectly into that routine since it can be done on an indoor grill.

This skirt steak (also called flap meat in some grocery stores – it’s a boneless portion of the diaphragm muscle attached to the 6th through 12th ribs on the underside of the short plate) does need to be marinated for at least 8 hours, or overnight if you can make the time to do it. That helps tenderize the rather chewy cut of meat. And in case you’ve never done a skirt steak, when you buy it, it’s a big, long piece of meat, relatively thin and very grainy when you look at it. Do cut it up into manageable pieces before marinating and then grilling them.

This marinade is heavy in the oil component. It needs it here, although when you’re done, that marinade gets thrown out anyway. Combine the ingredients in a plastic Ziploc bag, and turn the meat a few times to coat everything well. Then seal it up and stick it in the frig until later.

Make the garlic yogurt sauce – it’s easy to do – Phillis Carey (this came from a class with her) prefers regular yogurt, not Greek, but I think I’d use Greek. She said you could, it’s just that the sauce will be much thicker. Do make it several hours ahead too, so the garlic and lemon juice will mix and flavor all the yogurt. Chill it until you’re ready to serve it – can be made the day before if you want.

INDOOR GRILLING:

Use your indoor grill pan and place a piece of heavy-duty foil on top. Oil it and grill as usual. Easy cleanup.

Now, the grilling. I was so impressed – Phillis discovered that you can save all the cleanup of an indoor grill by covering the top with foil – you just lay the foil on top – don’t press it in/on it. Spray or brush the foil with some of the oil from the marinade – try to get just the oil, not the lemon juice part. Or, barring that, just spray with olive oil spray. Pick up the meat pieces with tongs and just let them drain for 5-10 seconds (over the open bag) then place on the pre-heated grill. You’ll be so surprised – the meat gets grill marks just as if it’s right on the pan itself. This meat, however, only wants to be grilled for 3-5 minutes per side. The meat shrinks up something fierce – you might think that 2-3 pounds of skirt steak would feed 10 people, but NO, it shrinks a lot. In case you don’t know, skirt steak is quite fatty – you can’t SEE the fat very much – but enter the meat into any nutrition info and you’ll find that it’s very fatty. Sad to say . . . but it’s full of flavor. More flavor than regular steaks, it’s true.

Let the meat sit, tented with foil, for about 5 minutes once you’ve taken it off the grill then use tongs and a sharp knife and cut it across the grain into thin slices. Pile it onto a heated platter and serve with some of the garlic yogurt sauce drizzled over it, and serve the remaining in a bowl to pass at the table. Or, as I suggested a few days ago, serve this steak with the BLT Salad with Grilled Corn and Buttermilk Parm Dressing.

What’s GOOD: the flavor, first of all. Easy to do, easy marinade, easy grilling – just watch it carefully and don’t overcook it – served medium-rare at most (cooking it further may make the meat more tough).

What’s NOT: really nothing except watching the grilling carefully.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Greek-Marinated Skirt Steak with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, 2018
Serving Size: 6

2 1/2 pounds skirt steak
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped (garnish)
MARINADE:
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic — minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
YOGURT SAUCE:
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt — full fat (may use Greek, but it will be thick)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. STEAK: Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, herbs, salt and pepper in a large Ziploc bag. Mix well, then add the skirt steak(s), turning to coat well. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
2. SAUCE: mash the garlic with the salt into a paste. Stir the garlic into the yogurt along with lemon juice.Cover and refrigerate up to one day ahead.
3. Preheat grill. If using an indoor grill, place a piece of heavy-duty almuminum foil on top of the grill and oil it. Remove steak from refrigerator about 45 minutes before cooking time. Using tongs, remove steak from marinade and let it drain for 10-15 seconds (over the bag), then place on grill for 3-5 minutes per side for medium rare (depends on the thickness of the meat), then let meat rest on a cutting board, tented with foil, for 5 minutes before slicing thinly on the diagonal (across the grain). Mound meat on a heated platter, drizzle with some of the yogurt sauce, sprinkle with parsley and serve remaining sauce on the table.
Per Serving (assumes you’re consuming all the marinade, which you don’t): 694 Calories; 57g Fat (74.6% calories from fat); 39g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 102mg Cholesterol; 727mg Sodium.

Posted in Beef, Grilling, on June 4th, 2018.

grilled_flank_steak_onions_ancho_chili_rub

Is it hard to see what’s in that photo? Grilled sweet onions on the left, a nice pile of thinly sliced, grilled flank steak, then a creamy horseradish sauce with onion.

I can’t say that flank steak is one of my favorites. Although you can make it tender with a marinade (this one wasn’t marinated for tenderness, just spice rubbed for flavor), it’s tricky to do just the right amount of tenderizing without the meat becoming mushy. If you’ve ever had mushy meat, you’ll know what I’m talking about. This steak was served at a great cooking class with Phillis Carey, and although I love-loved the flavor of this combination, I think I’d do the same rendition but with ribeyes instead of flank. Or maybe with a nice piece of sirloin, sliced thin. By far, the onions were my favorite part (sweet onions grilled with a spice rub on them too) and I lapped up the horseradish spiked mayo sauce with every bite of meat.

This sauce, what Phillis called an Onion Blossom Horseradish Sauce (she was mimicking the jarred Orange Blossom Horseradish Sauce, is it made by Rothschild?) and it’s really good, and very easy. It needs a few hours to combine the flavors – do NOT just make the sauce as you’re preparing the meat – it needs at least an hour to meld. It wouldn’t hurt the meat to be spice rubbed at the same time then kept chilled until ready to grill.

You used to not be able to find ancho chili powder in stores, but you can these days, so do seek it out. The rub comes together very easily with standard ingredients in most spice cabinets. The rub is used on both the steak and the onions, with you having tossed the onions with some olive oil first so the rub will stick to it. You’ll use most of the rub on the steak and the remainder on the onions.

The flank steak is rubbed all over with oil just before grilling for 7-9 minutes per side (no more than that or it will be overcooked). Once grilled, transfer the steak to a cutting board and tent it with foil for 8-10 minutes, then slice thinly on the diagonal and pile it onto a heated platter along side the onions and then drape the sauce over the top. Delicious!

What’s GOOD:  the flavors are marvelous. I particularly loved the onions, but then I love grilled onions. Just remember to buy the sweet ones and slice them thickly. Do slice the flank steak thinly across the grain and pile them onto a serving plate (looks pretty that way).

What’s NOT: the meat will be a bit chewy – some folks like steak that way (me not so much). Otherwise, this is a stellar recipe – you’ll need only a green salad to complete the meal.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Grilled Flank Steak and Onions with Ancho Chili Rub

Recipe By: Phillis Carey cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 4

SAUCE:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 T. prepared horseradish
1 T. ketchup
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika — or regular paprika
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 Pinch cayenne pepper
STEAK:
2 T. ancho chili powder
2 T. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 lb. flank steak — (1 to 2 1/2)
2 large sweet onions — peeled and sliced in thick rings
Grapeseed oil for brushing

1. For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 days.
2. Preheat the grill. In a small bowl combine the ancho chili, cumin, coriander, mustard, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne in a small bowl to make the rub. Pat dry the flank steak with paper towels and coat well with most of the rub. Sprinkle onions with some of the rub as well; brush or toss onions with a bit of oil.
3. Brush the flank steak with oil all over and place on the grill. Cook the steak 7 to 9 minutes per side or to desired doneness; cook the onions next to the steak. Transfer the steak to a carving board and let rest, tented with foil, for 8 to 10 minutes. Slice the steak across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Serve steak with onions and drizzled with sauce.
Per Serving: 447 Calories; 36g Fat (70.7% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 67mg Cholesterol; 1277mg Sodium.

Posted in Beef, on April 9th, 2018.

chili_spaghetti_2_slice

Sometimes you just crave one of those old-fashioned ground beef casseroles. Instead of hunting for something new, I knew this was what I wanted. If you need a casserole for serving a big crowd, this is a good one.

Just for the record, I posted this recipe about 2 weeks after I began writing this blog in 2007. I was still using my point-and-shoot camera, no special lighting, and I took one close-up photo that looked positively ugly and dark. I didn’t have a clue how to compose or edit photos back then. Some years later I made a list of all the early blog posts I intended to return to, to take some better photos (with my good camera that’s now about 9 years old) and with better lighting. I’d just not gotten around to it.

When I decided I wanted to make a casserole the other night I did hunt in my to-try file, but I kept coming back to – – no, I really wanted to make chili spaghetti. So I did. It’s SO very easy to do. Other than the pound of ground beef, this contains ingredients I almost always have available. You need ground beef (or ground turkey, or a mixture), tomatoes, canned kidney beans, cheddar and Jack cheese, and some pasta (I prefer linguine). And some seasonings. That’s it.

chili_spaghett_2_before_baking

There’s a photo of it before I’d baked it. I’d made a pot of chili (ground beef, onion, garlic, ground cumin and chili powder, then canned tomatoes and canned kidney beans). That took about 20 minutes, I suppose. I let it bubble away on the stove while I cooked up the linguine (a little under-done) and grated tons of cheese. I buttered the pasta just a bit and began layering the stuff in a pie plate. You can make it in a 9×13 pan as well. With a pound of pasta, there’s certainly enough to put into a big casserole. I have the leftover components and will likely make another casserole to freeze.

chili_spaghett_2_after_baking

And there’s the casserole after it had been in the oven for 30 minutes. Since everything was warm/hot when I composed the casserole, it didn’t take all that long to bake.

What’s GOOD: everything about this casserole is delicious. It’s comfort food. It’s not that I truly needed comfort food, but it was a cold night outside, and a casserole just sounded like the perfect ticket for me. It makes a lot, so I can share it with friends, and still have some to freeze for later.

What’s NOT: it’s not fancy, that’s for sure. If you know Cincinnati chili, this is very similar. I think they sprinkle Fritos on top, and they don’t make it in a casserole form – just spaghetti, a big blob of chili on top then cheese sprinkled on top of that.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Chili Spaghetti

Recipe By: Served to me by friends in about 1972
Serving Size: 10-12

CHILI:
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 whole yellow onion — chopped
2 cloves garlic — peeled, minced (2 to 3)
1 whole shallot — peeled, minced (optional)
16 ounces chopped tomatoes — with juice
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
CASSEROLE:
16 ounces black beans — with juice
8 ounces tomato sauce — preferably low sodium water — as needed
1 pound linguine — cooked al dente
2 tablespoons butter — optional
6 ounces monterey jack cheese — shredded
6 ounces cheddar cheese — shredded

1. Heat a large skillet with olive oil, then crumble in the ground beef. While it is cooking, mince up the onion, shallot and garlic separately. Once the beef has lost all its pink color, add the onion and shallot, stir in and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 minute or so. Add the chili powder and cumin, the tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans. Stir gently with a spoon, then bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. If the chili is too thick, add water to make it a soupy consistency (the pasta absorbs much of the liquid when it’s baked).
2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add about a teaspoon of salt, then boil the pasta of your choice (I just happen to like the thin linguine, but any pasta will do) until it’s just undercooked, al dente. Drain (but do not rinse). Return pasta to the pot and add the butter (if you want to add it), stir until melted. Have the piles of cheese nearby. Use a 9 x 13 pan, and spray with cooking spray. Add buttered pasta first (you’ll be making two layers), then scoop the hot chili over it, spread to cover the pasta, then sprinkle liberally with the cheeses, then more pasta, more chili, and top with the remainder of the cheese. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling hot. Serve.
Per Serving: 635 Calories; 26g Fat (36.3% calories from fat); 33g Protein; 68g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 73mg Cholesterol; 415mg Sodium.

Posted in Beef, on January 12th, 2018.

parkers_beef_stew

Beef stew, yes. A little different? Yes. Delicious? Yes.

A dear sweet gal, Susan, volunteers her home when a group of us gather for a cooking class each month. Last time as we were collecting our stuff to go, leaving her behind with a mound of dirty dishes and detritus on the floor from the cooking demonstration with Tarla, she mentioned that she had dinner ready to go into the oven. Oh, what was it, we asked? Parker’s Beef Stew, from Ina Garten. She went on to explain that she’s been making it for years, and that it’s hers and her husband’s favorite stew. No other will do.

I promptly came home and looked it up. It appeared in 2008 in her book, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients. Ina mentions her chef at the Barefoot Contessa store, Parker Hodges, who wasn’t a trained chef, but he had an innate skill with food. This is his recipe.

The unique thing about this stew is that the beef stew meat is marinated for about 20 hours or so in an entire bottle of red wine (along with some bay leaves and garlic). The marinade is reserved (minus the bay and garlic) and added back in later. The meat is dried off and dredged in a flour/salt/pepper mixture and browned. I made mine with just one pot, my big Le Creuset pot. I browned the meat, removed it, then browned the veggies (carrots, onions, mushrooms and a few potatoes), removed that, then started the layering of the meat on the bottom, then the veggies added on top. The wine is poured in, along with some seasonings, more fresh garlic, a jot of Worcestershire, a few sun-dried tomatoes (which add a good umami taste to the stew), some fresh rosemary AND some chicken broth. Chicken broth, you ask? In a beef stew? Yep. The article in Ina’s cookbook doesn’t explain, but I followed the recipe.

I veered off just a little bit – because my cousin was coming to visit, and he eats GF, I didn’t dredge the meat in flour, choosing to thicken the gravy at the end, just before serving, with cornstarch instead. And, I didn’t put in hardly any potatoes (because I prefer it that way) but doubled the mushrooms. Otherwise, I stuck to the recipe more or less. I didn’t happen to have any sun-dried tomatoes, but I did have a sun-dried tomato tapenade in the pantry, so I used that instead. AND, because I had a little packet of dried mushrooms on hand, I rehydrated them, and added them into the stew also (minus the water from it).

The stew is baked in a slow oven for 2 hours. Knowing that my oven runs hot, I turned down the temp to 275°F, so the stew would not bubble-simmer (it wants to be below that). And once removed from the oven, the beef was fork tender and the juice/sauce was just delicious. Also knowing that stew is better when reheated, I cooled it down and heated it up the next day, adding in the frozen peas at the very last minute. They add a lovely texture and bright color.

What’s GOOD: altogether delicious rendition of stew. The broth/gravy part is really flavorful since it’s mostly red wine. If there’s anything that’s really unusual about this, it’s the marinating of the beef in a bottle of red wine. It almost gives the resulting broth a French beef bourguignon flavor. Loved that part. When I served this to guests I cooked more onion and carrots in a little bit of butter and water and added them into the stew to give the mixture some additional vibrant color. And I sprinkled the top with some chopped Italian parsley too.

What’s NOT: only that you have to start this at least 24 hours ahead.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Parkers Beef Stew

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Ina Garten’s recipe, 2008
Serving Size: 6

2 1/2 pounds beef chuck — good quality, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 bottle red wine — (750 ml) like a Zinfandel or Cabernet
2 whole garlic cloves — smashed
3 whole bay leaves
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil — as needed
2 large yellow onions — cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound carrots — peeled and cut diagonally in 1-inch chunks
1 pound white mushrooms — stems discarded and cut in half
1/2 pound potatoes — small, halved
1 tablespoon minced garlic
14 1/2 ounces chicken stock
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes — chopped
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
More salt and pepper as needed to season
10 ounces frozen peas

NOTES: Use a very hearty type red wine, like Zinfandel or Cabernet – the more full bodied the wine, the more full bodied the sauce/stew will be. I also added a 1-ounce packet of dried mushrooms to the stew, after rehydrating in hot water for about 20 minutes, chopped up, fluid discarded. I also used double the fresh mushrooms and half the amount of potatoes, so you can adjust to suit your family’s preferences. The calorie count assumes you consume all of the flour, salt and pepper, which you won’t.
1. Place the beef in a heavy duty ziploc bag with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves and refrigerate overnight.
2. About 4 hours before you are ready to eat, remove bag from refrigerator and preheat the oven to 300°F. [I did mine at 275°F – see notes below under #11]
3. Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper.
4. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. Blot the beef dry with paper towels.
5. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess.
6. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in a large oven-proof Dutch oven and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you’ll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.
7. Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
8. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef.
9. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon.
10. Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove.
11. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250° or 275° F.
12. Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot. May sprinkle chopped Italian parlsey on top if desired.
Per Serving (assumes you consume all the flour and the S & P in it, which you won’t): 784 Calories; 40g Fat (46.1% calories from fat); 41g Protein; 64g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 109mg Cholesterol; 1862mg Sodium.

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